August 19, 2009

"It's probably a blip,"
Cool summer produced fat arctic bears

Too many cool, wet days resulted in a lousy summer -- but you won't find any polar bears complaining. The cooler-than-usual summer produced thicker ice on Hudson Bay, giving the area's polar bear population several extra days to feed on tasty ringed seals.

"This is the time of year when polar bears eat the most, and the ringed seals are so full of fat and energy," said Daryll Hedman, the northeast regional wildlife manager for Manitoba Conservation.

Hedman said polar bears stay on the Hudson Bay ice for as long as possible so they can feed, adding this year the ice was so thick that the bears stayed out for an extra two weeks.

That's resulted in fatter, healthier bears this summer, Hedman said, adding the development is not likely a long-term trend.

"It's probably a blip," Hedman said of the thicker ice and cooler temperatures.

Last month, the Polar Bear Specialist Group -- scientists from Denmark, Norway, Russia, the U.S. and Canada -- passed a resolution to urge the governments to take the animals into consideration when planning Arctic development.

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