Black and polar bears found living together in Manitoba

Black and polar bears found living together in Manitoba

In North America, there are three types of bears - black, white and grizzly. And they usually do not live in the same place. But in Wapusk National Park on the west coast of Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba, researchers from the University of Saskatchewan for the first time managed to capture all three species of bears on camera.

Observations began in 2011. Remote cameras were used - a widespread, economical and non-invasive tool for studying wildlife. Within five years, the cameras recorded more than 366 visits of polar bears. At the same time, they also captured other bears.

Wapusk is known for its polar bears, but it is also located along the northern edge of the boreal forest, where black bears feel good. Their visits to the southernmost chambers on Owl River were almost as frequent as those of polar bears.

What has become new for scientists is a grizzly, there have been a few of them, but they have been expanding their range in the Arctic in recent decades. In Wapusk, their appearance has become increasingly frequent since the 1990s, and they even wandered into the nearby city of Churchill.

This suggests that climate change will continue to mix species and create new combinations of them. Managers of wildlife or the park are not easy to determine which environmental changes are desirable and which are not.

However, Wapusk is a joint park, the goal of which is the integration of scientific and traditional knowledge with human values. It is equipped to solve these complex issues.

“This particular story about the three bears is not finished yet, and we don’t know how it will end,” says Douglas Clark, a staff member of the Human Dimensional Environmental and Sustainability Measurements Department at the University of Saskatchewan. “Therefore, we need to be patient to answer the scientific and social questions that were asked by three bears in Wapusk.”