The ice was pushed into shore in buggyland today. At low tide this morning, there were at least eight bears out on the ice hoping to find a stranded seal or simply just enjoying the feel of napping on sea ice again.
The bay between Gordon Point and Great White Bear Camp is almost frozen over, a thin line of blue slips in from the bay but even that will be erased with the next north wind. The weather is decided light today, almost balmy you could say but not many people would. A gentle breeze from the north, sometimes west, blows a few flakes through the air and buggyland has a decidedly calm feel.
Along the coast, a young bear chews on seaweed, digging into the kelp beds along the shore. There is a theory that bears chew on seaweed and grasses to ‘kickstart’ their digestive system after the summer, however this seems unlikely to me. Bears can slip in and out of a state of ‘walking hibernation’ at any time throughout the year so not sure why they would need to trigger anything right now. Either way, the seals may live another day, this bear is temporarily vegetarian.
Apparently, vegetarian bears might be a growing trend as another bear purposely walked along the edge of the ice, seemingly hunting for seals where the relatively solid ice meets the mostly broken ice. So intense was his search for prey that he somehow managed to walk right past a seal basking on the ice not more than 30m away from him. I, of course, use the term ‘he’ because well I have a hard picturing anyone other than a male doing this kind of thing.
Regardless of early hunting season success, the bears are getting a little restless now. Polar Bear Alert moved more bears away from town, still more bears were walking along the coast and even the road this afternoon and about 12 bears are hanging out at the old dump, likely getting a little tipsy.
An arctic fox has finally shown up in buggyland, a rare sighting in this year of red foxes. As well, a snowy owl sat on the big black rock near Tundra Buggy lodge. Mix in a few seals and bears and it was quite a productive wildlife day.
Once you add this to the 15-20 bears out in buggyland and you have around 40 or so bears kicking around Churchill these days. This number is sure to build as the ice keeps forming, more bears will gather anticipating a quick freeze (one that we hope will be temporarily delayed by a south wind…).