Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge poised for increase in polar bear sightings, Manitoba Conservation officials discover large number of new polar bear dens on Hudson Bay coast

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It’s still too early to tell whether a spring Polar Bear Photo Safari is in order for Churchill Wild’s Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, but the recent discovery of a large number of new polar bear dens on the Hudson Bay coast make it a distinct possibility.

Polar bears. Mother with polar bear cub at Nanuk.

Come on Mom! Let's play!

...we are seeing a lot of polar bears this year that are in exceptional condition.

It’s still too early to tell whether a spring Polar Bear Photo Safari is in order for Churchill Wild’s Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, but the recent discovery of a large number of new polar bear dens along the Hudson Bay coast by Manitoba Conservation officials make it a distinct possibility in the future.

“At this point we do not have enough information on the number of dens, their locations and if there is any potential for a spring Mothers & Cubs Polar Bear Adventure,” said Rick Kemp, Director of Marketing and Communications at Churchill Wild. “But we do know that Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge is located in the heart of the newly discovered denning sites, and this bodes well for many exceptional polar bear encounters in the years ahead.”

Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge is located 250 km southeast of Churchill, Manitoba, on the Hudson Bay coast near York Factory, and is currently home to Churchill Wild’s Mothers & Cubs summer polar bear adventure. According to Manitoba Conservation officials, the newly discovered polar bear dens are located in an area southeast of Wapusk National Park and east of the Nelson River, a region along the southern end of the polar bears’ range which is not as well-known as Churchill and other areas to the north.

The discovery of the new polar bear dens could indicate that the bear population in the area is in excellent shape, but the Province of Manitoba is undertaking a three-year study to get more detail. An aerial survey released by the Nunavut government earlier this year estimated the polar bear population in the area at 1,000, which was surprising considering a survey done in 2004 had predicted the number of polar bears in the area would decline to about 650 in 2011.

The prediction was also based on the fact that the ice covering this stretch of Hudson Bay is now present for three weeks less than it was in the past, reducing the time that the polar bears are able to hunt seals and affecting their livelihood. Scientists were also worried that climate change would affect the permafrost the polar bears use for their dens. The dens do not collapse on permanently frozen ground, but if warming temperatures result in the permafrost receding to the north, the denning areas would be in jeopardy.

“The sheer numbers of polar bears moving up and down the coast past Nanuk indicate a very healthy population,” said Mike Reimer, founder of Churchill Wild. “This has been our best summer to date. Nanuk is located near Cape Tatnum, which is the premier landing site on Hudson Bay for polar bears coming off the last of the summer ice, due to prevailing winds and ocean currents. Once again we experienced a late sea ice break up this year, which gave the bears an excellent opportunity to extend their seal hunt. As a result, we are seeing a lot of polar bears this year that are in exceptional condition.”

“Manitoba Conservation has not indicated that they will base their research study out of Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge,” continued Kemp. “But we would certainly welcome the opportunity to be part of this important discovery mission. Polar bear populations and their overall health are a concern for us all, as we come to grips with climate change and its impact on these beautiful creatures.”
Nanuk’s Mothers & Cubs Polar Bear Adventure began last week and early reports from the Lodge indicate polar bear numbers are definitely on the upswing.

“We had a great first morning with at least eight bears, a wolf, a Gyrfalcon and tons of geese and shore birds” said Dennis Fast, a professional photographer and author who is currently leading Churchill Wild’s first summer Polar Bear Photo Safari at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge.

Churchill Wild is dedicated to providing life-changing polar bear experiences at our remote wilderness lodges,” said Kemp. “Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge is without a doubt poised to become a “must see” destination for discerning adventure travel enthusiasts.”

About Churchill Wild:
Churchill Wild offers the only fly-in eco-lodge based on-the-ground polar bear tours in the world. Their season runs from mid-July to mid-November with limited space available for adventure packages. They operate Seal River Heritage Lodge and Dymond Lake Eco-lodge on the west coast of Hudson Bay (north of Churchill), and Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, which is located approximately 40 kilometers east of York Factory on the southern tip of Wapusk National Park. Additional information and booking details may be found at http://www.ChurchillWild.com or by calling (204) 377-5090. Also visit their very active Churchill Wild Facebook Page.

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Rick Kemp
Churchill Wild
1 (204) 377-5090
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