Canadian Polar Bear Ecology and Behavior

Canadian Polar Bear Ecology and Behavior

Canadian Polar Bear Ecology and Behavior

One of the most fascinating species to observe in Northern Canada is the Polar Bear. During the winter months in the Arctic regions, it is dark all day long, and the polar bear populations gather for the long winter months. There are approximately 25,000 polar bears in the wild, with about 60% of them found in Canada alone.

Polar Bear Ecology

Polar bears are marvels of evolution. To be able to live in the cold arctic environment, they developed 4½ -inch thick layers of fat and huge padded feet. Their broad paddle-like forepaws act like snowshoes for walking on ice and snow, and work like oars when they swim. Polar bears rely heavily on their sense of smell for finding food and other bears. With their keen sense of smell, polar bears can detect prey from as far away as 20 miles, even through snow or ice that is six feet thick.

The Summer Months

In summer, sea ice melts first along the heat-absorbing Alaskan coastline. Polar bears find cracks in the ice pack that are narrowly open or thinly frozen over, for hunting seals. Most bears in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas stay on the main pack to hunt, as it recedes miles from shore. Bears distribute themselves along the ice edges, where they have better access to seals. Outside of the main ice pack, isolated ice floes break into smaller floes or large patches of unconsolidated ice. Bears that are isolated from the main pack or land use these floes like a series of floating islands for hunting or resting. Eventually the floes become too small for a bear, which may have to swim to the main ice pack or to land.

Autumn and Winter

As summer turns into fall, theArctic begins to cool. During the onset of the long dark winter, virtually all of the Arctic Ocean refreezes. In fall, ice and bears return nearer to shore. As autumn progresses, temperatures cool, and ice begins to form again. Polar bears follow that leading edge of ice south, eventually occupying the shallow waters of the continental shelf, where the seal population is highest. To adapt, polar bears build fat stores necessary for winter survival. Pregnant females particularly fatten in early autumn to fuel their long winter fast and the nursing of their cubs. Later in autumn, they look for winter birthing dens near the coast or on stable ice pack, near good hunting habitat. Long swims between sea ice and shore deplete their body stores, affecting their reproductive success.

Plan Your Polar Bear Experience

If you're fascinated by polar bear ecology, there's no better time to visit the polar bear capital of the world in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. With a variety of different vacation packages, Canada Polar Bears tours offer packages for just about any polar-bear enthusiast. Spend a few days with an expert guide and take a close-up tour of the polar bears via our safety-proof tundra buggies. Once you've got the ultimate polar bear experience, check out the quaint town of Churchill and explore the famous Eskimo Museum and Parks Interpretation Center.

Need more information on Canadian Polar Bear Ecology and Behavior? Talk to one of our Canadian travel Insiders who'd be happy to answer all your questions.

Back to all stories

How can we help you?

We make it easy to plan a worry-free seamless travel experience in Canada by combining our insider knowledge with your personal preferences. Your trip is personalized to your needs and all components are booked for you, so you can just relax and enjoy your experience.

Browse Canadian Polar Bear Trips and Sample Itineraries Step 1

Explore our sample trip ideas for inspiration

Get inspired by reviewing the collection of our hand-picked Canadian journeys – ones that we've done many times, and think are the best way to truly experience Canada.

Speak with our Canadian Insiders Step 2

Discuss your trip with our Canadian Insiders

We will help you narrow down your choices – where to go, where to stay, what to do on your trip, and create a personalized trip plan and quote that is tailored to you.

Fresh Tracks Canada personalized itineraries Step 3

Get your personalized trip plan and quote

When you're happy with the itinerary that we've co-created, we'll book all the components of your journey and send you a confirmation that everything is arranged for your trip.

Enjoy your vacation organized by Fresh Tracks Canada Step 4

Your worry-free Canadian experience unfolds

Before you travel, we'll send you your detailed travel plan, with everything you need to go on your journey. All that's left to do now is arrive in Canada and enjoy your trip.

Ready to start planning your Polar Bear tour?

Get your personalized trip plan and all your questions answered by our friendly, knowledgeable Canadian Insiders.

Hi, I'm Natalie!


“I am completely smitten with the Maritimes and love how easy it is to cover New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI in one trip. The drive is half of the fun, with stunning seascapes and the amazing Confederation Bridge! The red sand and warm water at all of PEI's beaches completely captivated me. And of course, no PEI visit is complete without tasting some locally-made ice cream and freshly caught mussels!”

Hi, I'm Greg!


“I am in love with our nation's capital, Ottawa. The city has many of its best sights within walking distance of each other. In the centre of it all are the inspiring gothic style parliament buildings, just steps away from the vibrant ByWard Market. And in what other city can you ice skate to work?! The Rideau Canal is a marvel that I will always remember.”

Hi, I'm Anjuli!


“Getting on horseback and roaming the open meadows and birch forests with my dog at my side is the perfect quintessential Canadian getaway! Old homesteads and deserted farms, wildlife and horses roaming the fields will get you thinking you’re a cowboy (or girl!) in the Old West. It's totally worth getting up at the crack of dawn to witness the horses being driven in from the meadows.”

Hi, I'm Kirsten!


“The glacial beauty of Moraine Lake in the Rockies first lured me to Canada, but it's the charm of Vancouver that has kept me here! Known as the modern ‘City of Glass’ it's surrounded by a stunning natural environment of ocean and mountains. This results in my perfect day: a morning of watching seaplanes take off from the harbour, and an afternoon to meet the resident grizzly bears on Grouse Mountain.”

Hi, I'm Angie!


“I love the West Coast! I moved here from Ontario years ago but am still in awe of the mountains and ocean. I commute to work from an island and am lucky enough to get to enjoy the natural beauty of the West Coast on a daily basis. Sometimes we're even greeted by whales or dolphins as we boat in! We're close to world-class ski mountains, beautiful city of Vancouver, and are just a short ferry ride away from Vancouver Island.”

Hi, I'm Sarah!


“Toronto is an exciting and lively city! I visit every summer and love to explore the different neighbourhoods for samples of food and people watching. Taking in the old brick buildings and beautiful murals in Kensington Market, or the view of the entire city from the CN Tower – it's all a treat to experience and you never know what to expect while wandering the streets in a big city!”

Schedule a call or call us directly toll-free:

1 877 395 5671

Customized Trips

All our trips can be personalized to match your dates, travel style, and budget.

Canadian Insiders

Advice From Canadians

Make the most of your time in Canada with advice from our local Insiders.


Everything Arranged

Feel in control with all the details of your trip organized and booked for you.