Paw Prints on the Beach

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These massive paw prints on the shores of Hudson Bay announce the return of polar bears to the Churchill area.

Sunday, July 6, 2014 - 14:48

The first bears of the season have started to arrive in Churchill, Manitoba, as the summer melt on Hudson Bay forces them ashore. Our director of field operations, BJ Kirschhoffer, photographed these polar bear paw prints on the beach near Churchill on July 1st.

We reached out to scientist Alysa McCall, who studies the Western Hudson Bay population, for insights on this year's melt. She shared the map below, from June 30th. It  provides a snapshot of the sea ice in relation to the locations of satellite-collared polar bears. (For the safety of the bears, there’s a deliberate lag in location data.)

“So far, the ice is melting about on track,” says McCall, “with most of the open water around the west coast of Hudson Bay.”

None of the collared bears have come ashore yet, the scientist says. Her advice on bears to follow: "Bears R and G are still pretty far out on the ice and will be especially interesting to watch."

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