Category Archives: wildlife

Tale of three bears

Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, Canada

Wapusk National Park is a 11,475 square kilometer park located on the western coast of Hudson Bay. The University of Saskatchewan has been studying polar bears within the park since 2011. Wapusk sits at the transition of boreal forest and Arctic tundra. The park contains three different, but equally dynamic ecosystems: forest, tundra and ocean. Wapusk is one of the largest polar bear denning areas in the world, with a population of over 1000 polar bears venturing in and out of the park. During a five year period, remote cameras were able to document the visits of 366 polar bears within the park.

Since the southern portion of the park contains the northern edge of a boreal forest, it was no surprise to find images of black bears on the remote cameras. Researchers were surprised to find that the number of black bear visits were almost as high as the polar bears.

For the first time, researchers were able to capture visits from all three of North America’s bear species within the park. It wasn’t just a few grizzly bears that had moved into the area, but many, and at least one is believed to be denning within the park.

Barren ground grizzly bears have been expanding their range in the Arctic in recent years. The question now for park managers is what, if anything, should they do about it. Prevailing thought claims that the grizzly is a threat to polar bears. Is that based on research, or opinion? Have the two bear populations benefitted each other in the past, or clashed?

With the continued decrease of sea ice, and the grizzly roaming into new territory for food and habitat, this interaction of the two species will only increase.

It’s an interesting study by the University of Saskatchewan, and they ask some intriguing questions.

Photo credit: University of Saskatchewan; Research by Douglas Clark, University of Saskatchewan


A Weasel Welcome Home

When I returned home from the fishing trip to Seward, I was putting the fish in the freezer, when I heard a rapid, chirp-like bark coming from where my feet were. I looked around, and finally spotted the blur of my neighbor, Mustela Nivalis.

The least weasel seemed to miss me, or else it was disappointed that it had to share the cabin again. Up until that point, even the trail camera was too slow to get a decent picture of the little carnivore, but now it was putting on a show. It followed me all over the place. From one side of the cabin to the other, the little weasel didn’t let me get out of it’s sight.

A dozen pictures of the weasel, and three videos later, I called it a night, and left the weasel still barking at me from under my freezer.


Find the eagle nest

An eagle nest rests atop this small island. The head of an eaglet can be seen peeking over the top of the nest.


Pawing in Katmai


Viewing platform, Katmai National Park & Preserve

A curious brown bear approached a visitor in Katmai National Park, and pawed at the visitor’s pant leg recently. That bear then wandered off. In a second incident, a brown bear was being chased by another brown bear through Brooks Camp, and a worker at Brooks Lodge was “pawed”. Neither bear, nor person was injured in the pawings.

Katmai draws a large concentration of brown bears once the salmon start to run, which also brings the visitors to view the fishing bears. Some interaction would be expected, but what is really unusual about these events, is that the last time a bear made physical contact with a human in Katmai was 20 years ago. That really is a phenomenal safety record, especially with the unpredictability of both species.

Park Rangers believe the main cause of the interactions, is due to the high number of subadult bears at Brooks River this year. A subadult is a bear between 2.5 and 5 years old. They naturally like to chase each other, and are trying to feel out their place in the hierarchy. The last time Katmai had a similar number of subadult brown bears, was roughly 20 years ago.

Photo credit: Katmai NP&P


Moose Cam

One of the trail cameras I have set up captured this image of a moose calf following its mother as the two traveled along my driveway.


Honkers


International Polar Bear Day

Today, February 27, is International Polar Bear Day. I have only seen a polar bear once in the “wild”, when visiting a client at Prudhoe Bay. Two bears had come in for a stroll through the parking lot. I have posted those pictures on here in the past. Today, since it is the bears’ day, I figured I would go with a more natural photo. Unfortunately, I could not find the photographer’s name, although she/he certainly deserve credit for such a beautiful shot.

SAFETY NOTE: It should be noted, that hugging a polar bear, on this day, or any other, is highly hazardous and not recommended by the author, or any representative of Circle to Circle.