Animals

10 Amazing Facts About Polar Bears in Canada

Polar bears in Canada

Although not as famous and as homely as dogs, polar bears are still mystic creatures who add a hint of sparkle to the fascinating wilderness.

The polar bear, one of Canada’s most famous and iconic creatures, is the world’s largest bear and the top predator in the Arctic.

Fun fact: The Latin name for the polar bear, Ursus maritimus, means “sea bear.” It is the only bear classified as a marine animal due to its reliance on the water environment for survival.

10 Amazing Facts About Polar Bears in Canada

Polar bears in Canada are real marine specialists — their Latin name, “Ursus maritimus”, emphasizes their ability to in and around water.

The Arctic Circle encompasses the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding land masses, and waters as far south as James Bay and Newfoundland Island in Canada.

The Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, northern Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador, are places in Canada to spot polar bears.

Polar bear
Photo by evaurban from Shutterstock

James Bay (southern Hudson Bay) and its surrounding coastline constitute the southern Canadian polar bear range. 

The polar bear prefers to hunt seals, which make up the majority of its food, in locations where sea ice meets water. As a result, polar bears living in Canada are required to return to the land and wait for months for the next freeze-up.

Bears having habitat in Canada are capable of fasting and living off fat reserves for up to several months. This usually happens in the late summer and early fall when the sea is not frozen and they cannot search for seals.

The bears are well adapted to the Arctic’s extremes. It is a unique white coat that helps in blending it with the snow.

Physical Characteristics of Polar Bears

Male polar bears are substantially bigger than females. A giant male may weigh more than 1,700 pounds, whereas a large female is almost half that size (up to 1,000 pounds).

A newborn polar bear weighs about 1.5 pounds. They can live up to 25 to 30 years and are roughly around 8 feet tall. It has dense, water-resistant fur all over its body that is yellow or off-white in the summer and white the rest of the year.

Diet of Polar Bears

Polar bears spend most of their life on sea ice, which they utilize as a hunting platform for their favourite food like ringed seals.

The bears are especially vulnerable to climate change caused by the melting of ice since they rely on it in search of food.

According to Polar Bears International, a “guest bear will approach slowly, circle around a carcass, then meekly touch the feeding bear’s nose” to ask if they can have some of the food.

The guest bear will then approach the bear and gently greet it with a nose-to-nose greeting to see whether the other bear is willing to share.

Natural Habitat of Polar Bears

More than two-thirds of the world’s polar bears live in the Canadian Arctic, which runs from James Bay to northern Ellesmere Island and from Labrador to the Alaskan border.

Churchill, Manitoba is situated on the western shore of Hudson Bay. This town is famous because the majority of the polar bears of Canada reside here and it also attracts tourism.

Polar bears can be found in five countries including Canada, the United States of America, Russia, Denmark, and Norway.

Polar Bear
Photo by Himanshu Saraf from Shutterstock

Polar bears depend significantly on ice because they need it for breeding, travelling, and hunting. Polar bears are born on land but they spend most of their time on sea ice as they rely on it for survival.

The Beaufort and Chukchi seas are two of the Arctic’s most significant habitats for them. Canada is home to approximately 17,000 polar bears out of 25,000 worldwide, and Churchill, in northern Manitoba, is by far the greatest spot to watch them.

Every year, their presence on the edge of Hudson Bay is almost guaranteed. It is one of the few human settlements where polar bears can be seen in their natural habitat.

Polar Bears in Canada – 10 Amazing Facts!

Here are 10 amazing and fun facts about polar bears living in Canada.

1. Polar Bears May Fast for up to 8 Months

When the ice melts in the summer, polar bears are forced to stay inshore, away from their primary food supply.

During this stage, they frequently go for extended periods without eating. This is the time of year when bears primarily survive on the fat stores they built up over the winter by consuming seal blubber.

Polar bears
Photo by Edwin Butter from Shutterstock

Females, on the other hand, have the longest fasting period among polar bears. Female polar bears can go four to eight months without eating while draining with their cubs.

The hungry bears have been fasting for months and are eager to hunt their favourite food once again.

2. Polar Bears are NOT White

The skin of polar bears is yellow, and its fur is translucent with a hollow center that reflects light from and off the sun, making it appear white.

This helps the bears in blending in with the surroundings which also acts as an advantage when they go out to hunt for seals.

Their thick, transparent fur reflects the white snow, letting them remain warm during the winter.

3. Polar Bears Give Birth to Two to Three Cubs at Once

Polar bears give birth to twins usually. Female polar bears can give birth to cubs from multiple fathers at the same time, they dig their dens on the ice to give birth to their cubs and nurse them. 

Polar bears with cubs
Photo by outdoorsman from Shutterstock

Given the severe and harsh conditions seen in the Arctic, this evolutionary adaptation raises the probability that at least one cub will survive adulthood.

4. Polar Bears Are the Largest Land Carnivore

Male polar bears may grow to reach 2.8 meters long and 800 kilograms in weight. Only Kodiaks, an Alaskan subspecies of brown bears, can compete.

The African safari is often associated with the world’s largest land predator. However, it is the Arctic safari that owns the title.

5. Polar Bears Depend on Sea Ice for Survival

Polar bears depend on sea ice to catch seals because they are most efficient as ambush hunters.

They catch seals by waiting for them to surface at their ice-breathing holes and breaking into ringed seal nursing chambers.

Floating sea ice is a great opportunity for polar bears to hunt ringed seals as they can easily peer through the cracks of the ice to look for them.

Polar bear with his cub
Photo by J.U.L.O on  Pexels

6. Polar Bears are Incredibly Patient

Their most common mode of hunting is “still-hunting,” in which they calmly wait close to a breathing hole for a seal to appear.

Polar bear hunting
Photo by GTW from Shutterstock

Sometimes they have to wait for hours, and only two out of their ten hunts are successful.

7. At Birth, Polar Bears Are About the Size of a Guinea Pig

One of the most astounding facts about polar bears is how small these animals are at birth.

Polar bear cub
Photo by AndreAnita from Shutterstock

Given that polar bears are the world’s biggest mammal, newborn cubs are just approximately 25 centimeters long and weigh about one kilogram.

They are born blind, toothless, and with only a coating of soft, short fur. Polar bear babies develop quickly due to their mother’s nutritious milk, which contains about 30-50% fat.

8. Polar Bears Are Excellent Swimmers

Another interesting fact about polar bears is that they are good swimmers. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest documented swimming distance by a polar bear is 687 kilograms.

This incredible achievement was done in 2008 by an adult female swimming in the Beaufort Sea for 232 consecutive hours (9.67 days).

According to the Environmental News Network, polar bears regularly swim for 30 kilometers at a time.

9. Less than 2% of Polar Bears Hunts are Successful

Polar bears spend nearly half of their lives searching for food, and their hunts are rarely successful.

In reality, about 2 out of 10 hunts are successful. Polar bears are compelled to feed on small mammals, birds, eggs, and vegetation after each unsuccessful hunt.

10. They Face a Lot of Threats

Climate change is leading to a lack of sea ice, and this makes it more difficult for polar bears to hunt.

Along with that, oil and gas concerns are steadily moving into the Arctic and this is disrupting their habitat, thereby increasing the risk to the population.

Polar bear
Photo by wsxcvfr04 on Unlimphotos

Measures Made to Conserve Polar Bears

Polar bears are protected through a collaborative strategy shared by provinces, territories, and regional wildlife management boards.

The collaborative strategy has been beneficial in placing Canada achieve its duties as a signatory to the Polar Bear Conservation Agreement (1973), which was signed by Canada, Norway, Russia, Greenland, and the United States.

The fate of Churchill Manitoba and the hundreds of polar bears in Hudson Bay is largely dependent on what every country in the world does to cut emissions of the planet-warming gases that are swiftly transforming this region. 

Polar bears on the field
Photo by Horst Dunkhorst on Pexels

Things to Discuss

Polar bears are not only the largest bear species but also the world’s largest terrestrial carnivore.

Due to hazards from oil and gas drilling, tourism, commercial development, shipping, habitat changes, and pollution, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists polar bears as “vulnerable” on its Red List of endangered species

The Manitoban town of Churchill, which is known as “the polar bear capital of the world,” attracts millions of dollars worth of tourists because of their migration since they are the most studied mammal in the world.

The advent of the original tundra vehicle tours, the Tundra Buggy, sparked adventure among polar bears in Churchill Manitoba more than 30 years ago.

This tour includes an experienced guide to observe the bears up close and personal.

These all-terrain vehicles, specifically developed for the northern geography, allow them to take guests to the greatest sites in the Churchill area to safely observe animals and the spectacular northern lights.

The polar bear jail which was formally known as the Polar Bear Holding Facility is a unique structure in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada where difficult or dangerous polar bears are isolated before being moved to Hudson bay in Northern Canada for their safety.

Apart from the bears, one of the biggest reasons to visit in the summer is the possibility of seeing beluga whales.

EndNote

In the wild, polar bears in Canada are now classified as vulnerable and face a high risk of extinction.

Polar bears
Photo by COULANGES from Shutterstock

Polar bear populations are being impacted by global warming in several ways, both for polar bears in Alaska and those found elsewhere in the world.

So, mentioned above were the 10 amazing facts about polar bears hope you had fun reading all these insights!

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FAQs

1. Where can I find polar bears in Canada?

You must go by train or plane to see the polar bears, who are the region’s most famous seasonal residents, in Churchill, Manitoba, a small community on the remote, southwestern shores of Hudson Bay.

2. In Canada, how many polar bears still exist?

In 2021, researchers estimated there were 618 bears in Western Hudson Bay, which is home to Churchill, the town dubbed “the Polar Bear Capital of the World,” down from 842 in 2016, which was the previous survey year. [ Source: NPR]

3. Where are the majority of polar bears to be found in Canada?

Two of Canada’s most northern territories, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, are home to more than 90% of the country’s polar bears.

4. Where are 60% of the polar bears in the world found?

At least for the majority of the bears, Canada is truly “where the bears are.” The bulk of the world’s polar bears, also known as nanuk or nanuq among the Inuit of Canada, spend their time in that country. [Source: wwf.ca.stories]

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