At this very moment, a migration is taking place on the shores of the Hudson Bay in northern Canada. Polar bears are making their annual trek to Churchill, Manitoba to await the freezing of the bay. Once it is frozen, they will use the pack ice as their hunting ground. Because of this hunting period is vital to the bears, scientists working for Polar Bears International have discovered that this migration is essential to the polar bear
Churchill is home to fewer than 2,000 people. When trains make their scheduled arrival, it’s big news because the temperatures often wreak havoc on the rails, causing cancellations and delays. As you can imagine, the arrival of the polar bears is even bigger news.
There are no roads into the Polar Bear Capital of the World – you must reach it by air or rail. That’s okay with the bears. These 1,500 pound beauties are only interested in the adequacy of the ice. The sooner it will support their weight, the sooner they can begin their pinniped feast. The arctic ice and frozen conditions enable the polar bear food – ringed and bearded seals – to thrive. As a result, the hunting is good.
Once the bears have eaten enough to build up 4.5 inches of fur, blubber, and hide, they will be in fine shape to survive the Arctic winter. While they’re at it, the “heavy, deep snow creates the perfect maternity den for pregnant females trying to sustain the population,” reports abcnews today.
So why have polar bears have been listed as endangered since 2008? Theguardian reported in March 2013, that the warming climate is limiting the amount of time the bears have to hunt on the sea ice. “Longer stretches without food were impacting the predators’ health, breeding success and population…” the guardian reports. This is because the wait time on shore causes the bears to have less of their essential seal diet.
“Climate-induced changes that cause sea ice to melt earlier, form later, or both, likely affect the overall health of polar bears in the area,” concludes Dr. Seth Cherry of the University of Alberta, in theguardian report.
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