Do Not Disturb

Just as the swallows return to Capistrano, the polar bears (Ursus maritimus) make their annual pilgrimage to Churchill. Known as the “polar bear capital of the world,” the town of Churchill in Manitoba, Canada, with its approximately 800 permanent residents, is perched on a spit of land between the western shore of Hudson Bay and the Churchill River. For centuries, this peninsula has been the polar bear’s natural point of access to the bay. It is the first place the Bay freezes over to allow the bears access to their prey, ringed seals. They migrate here in the Fall, about six weeks before they can gain access to the ice. While here, they are more communal than at any other time of the year. This is the time and the place to see polar bears up close in the wild.
Polar bears sleep, but they do not hibernate, and can easily be aroused. This individual, half buried in snow to keep his body temperature low, has selected a spot alongside some willows with their last-surviving brilliant leaves glowing in the soft sunlight.

EF 70-200mm + 2x @ 400mm; f/11 @ 1/350 sec, -1 EV, ISO 100

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Nice capture Bob. Reminds me of the saying “let sleeping dogs lie” . . . .or in this case polar bear! Thanks for sharing.


Indeed! Polar bears are extremely dangerous. Polar bears are universally considered to be cute. Especially their young. Their cherubic round faces and black button eyes capture our imagination and stir fond memories of Christmas advertisements for Coca-Cola. However, to experience real polar bears in their environment is an adventure far from the fantasies of Madison Avenue.

The reality is that polar bears are the largest land predator in the world. A large male can stand five feet at the shoulder and weigh up to 2000 pounds. They are aggressive and have been known to stalk humans. Hardly cute.

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To get to see one of these would be pretty neat, but to get to click your shutter as well is really something. Thank you for sharing.


I spent three weeks in and around Churchill. It was a trip I planned for years to be assured the best time, conditions etc. It certainly paid off.

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Love the pose and Polar Bear appears to be in peace !

Thank you, Jagdeep. Within moments of this capture he suddenly lifted his head and began searching for whatever his ears and nose had alerted him of. I will post that image later.

The resting Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) was aroused by something he could hear or smell that the photographer could not. Within minutes an Arctic hare (Lepus arcticus) came bouncing along. The bear dismissed it offhand but moments later a Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) came along, That got the bear’s attention and soon the three animals were following one another across the snow.

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These are great. One day I’d like to go where they are to photograph them. With the longest lens I have, of course!

Thank you, Ms. Smith. If you ever get serious about going there I would refer you to the company I worked with in 2004 when this photo was made, Churchill Wild. They have an international reputation. You can always rent a long lens for the trip if you don’t own one. I did that when I went on safari to Botswana, Africa back in the film days, 1998.