Grizzly and polar bear captured (on film) in same-day event at Seal River Lodge. A romance in the making?

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In an extremely rare occurrence, staff at Churchill Wild's Seal River Lodge, 60 km north of Churchill, Manitoba, were greeted by a grizzly bear in the morning and a polar bear in the evening, as they were preparing for their first polar bear safari of the season, Birds, Bears and Belugas, which begins on July 11, 2015.

Staff at Churchill Wild's Seal River Lodge, 60 km north of Churchill, Manitoba, were greeted by a grizzly bear in the morning and a polar bear in the evening, as they were preparing for their first polar bear safari of the season, Birds, Bears and Belugas

Grizzly bear surveys polar bear territory at Churchill Wild's Seal River Lodge.

a chance to see polar bears, black bears and grizzly bears in one location, would certainly be an extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

What happens when a grizzly bear meets a polar bear? Churchill Wild, the original creator of polar bear walking safaris over 20 years ago, may soon be the first luxury wildlife lodge operator in the world to find out.

In an extremely rare occurrence, staff at Churchill Wild's Seal River Lodge, 60 km north of Churchill, Manitoba, were greeted by a grizzly bear in the morning and a polar bear in the evening, as they were preparing for their first polar bear safari of the season, Birds, Bears and Belugas, which begins on July 11, 2015.

The grizzly bear was spotted wandering the rocky, grassy grounds around Seal River Lodge at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, June 19, 2015. A big white male polar bear added to the intrigue when he wandered by the Lodge at sunset on the same day, meandering underneath the big picture windows and out to the nearby Hudson Bay for a swim.

Polar bears are not news for the Churchill Wild team. They've been taking guests for walks on the tundra with polar bears from July through November for decades at their remote fly-in eco-lodges on Canada's Hudson Bay coast. Grizzlies are something different.

"We've been seeing grizzly bears off and on around Seal River for the past 10 years," said Mike Reimer, co-owner of Churchill Wild. "But this is definitely the first time we’ve ever photographed or had one so close to one of the lodges. The grizzly bears are certainly expanding their territory south into Manitoba and we're very lucky to be one of the beneficiaries."

The grizzly bear sighting came just a day after CBC news published "Grizzly bears wander into Manitoba polar bear territory", which revealed that researchers from the University of Saskatchewan had taken over 200 photos of grizzly bears, polar bears and black bears all in the same vicinity, in Manitoba's Wapusk National Park.

Churchill Wild's Seal River Lodge is approximately 60 km north of Wapusk National Park, and if they're already seeing grizzlies there, it may be only a matter of time before they show up at Dymond Lake EcoLodge, 30 km north of Wapusk, and Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, which is approximately 50 km east of the southern tip of Wapusk.

"Finding a grizzly in Manitoba is very exciting for us," said Churchill Wild Director of Lodge Operations Nolan Booth. "Churchill Wild is all about exceptional experiences, and offering our guests a chance to see polar bears, black bears and grizzly bears in one location would certainly be an extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

An article that appeared in Environment 360 on July 27, 2012 entitled "Unusual number of grizzly and hybrid bears spotted in high arctic", described how sightings of grizzlies in polar bear territory were relatively rare until about 20 years ago, and that they had become more commonplace in recent years.

An earlier piece in the same publication, by award-winning Canadian author and photographer Ed Struzik, entitled "Arctic Roamers: The Move of Southern Species into Far North", appeared on Valentine's Day 2011, and talked about how grizzly bears were now mating with polar bears.

A romance in the making at Churchill Wild? Could be an interesting summer!

About Churchill Wild

Churchill Wild is the world’s first and only provider of polar bear safaris that offer on-the-ground access to polar bears. Their polar bear safaris run from mid-July to mid-November with a 100% success rate at the only fly-in polar bear eco-lodges on the Hudson Bay coast, which is home to the largest and most accessible polar bear population on the planet. Additional information and booking details may be found on their Web site at http://www.ChurchillWild.com or by calling (204) 878-5090. Also see Seal River Lodge on TripAdvisor.

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Melanie Swenarchuk
Churchill Wild
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