The Inuit community of Arviat on Hudson Bay is experiencing an increase in polar bear encounters due to this year's delayed freeze-up. In the latest incident, a homeowner and bylaw officer shot and killed a polar bear that was attacking the family's sled dogs after rifle shots failed to scare the bear away.
Dr. Andrew Derocher, an expert on the Western Hudson Bay polar bear population, said that hungry bears are apparently learning to associate dogs in coastal villages with food—a sign of the stress that the bears are experiencing.
Sea ice began to form on Western Hudson Bay in mid-November and freeze-up appeared to be well under by November 20th. Most of the Western Hudson Bay polar bears fanned across the ice almost immediately, hunting seals after their four-and-a-half month fast. But south winds blew the ice from shore earlier this week, forcing most of the bears back on land—and delaying their return to their seal hunting grounds.
Photo ©Daniel J. Cox/Natural Exposures.