Predator

A male polar bear (Ursus maritimus) in Wapusk NP near Churchill, Manitoba, runs toward the photographer with only one thing on his mind—FOOD! It is amazing to see these huge bears accelerate to top speed, approx. 18mph. You may be an artist, a poet, a great scientist, a fine all-round human being, but to a polar bear, you are meat. Do not try to run away from a polar bear. They can outrun a human. Seeing an animal fleeing from them arouses their instincts to chase.

EF 70-200mm +2x @ 140mm; f/11 @ 1/350 sec,-1 EV, ISO 100

I’m loving this image, Bob! That bottom of his front paw, and the look towards the camera is very nice.

Thank you, Shirley. The positions of this bear’s right forepaw and left hind paw show they use plantigrade locomotion, where the heel makes first contact with the ground during a step and the digits push off last. This is considered an ancestral form of locomotion which has been shown to enhance locomotor economy. Ursidae represent the largest mammals to have retained this posture, which likely increases their dexterity and enhances support for their large body mass.

Yess, this is the gait of a predator!
Great body language and wonderful subject!

Thank you Jagdeep. Magnificent animals unmolested in their environment. The bears in and around Churchill, including Wapusk, have no fear of humans. Their habituation to humans is problematic in Churchill as they come into town, looking for food and putting people, especially tourists, in great danger. Those bears are darted, put into “jail” and after serving their sentence of three weeks they are darted again and flown out of town 20 miles by helicopter. They are identified as a nuisance bear with a large paint dot. If they reappear in town it is easy to know they are recidivists and flown out again farther away, 40 miles. Repeat offenders are put down. I have a photo of “flying bears” posted below.

Flying Bears

EF 28-70mm @ 48mm; f/11 @ 1/180 sec, ISO 100

Bob I used to go up there a lot and I interviewed the Mounted Police and the doctors in the Emergency Room. Amazingly, there are very few human/bear interactions. I found the guide who helped National Geographic make their film back in the 70s or 80s. They had to put bacon grease on the bars of the cages holding the photographer to get the bears to show any interest! I love the composition and balance in this image, and nice to see you didn’t clone out the snow on the bear’s nose.

Thanks for your nice remarks Tim. Literally every bear has snow on his muzzle so it would be odd, to anyone who knows, to remove it. Flying the problem bears out has been very successful in controlling incidents, I was fortunate to witness and document Dennis Compayre, the author of Waiting for Dancer, interacting with Dancer in what turned out to be the last time Dancer was seen.

It’s a special place, for sure. First time I was on a Tundra Buggy my driver was named Paul Nicklin.

I am sure you got some great photo advice from him. In the three weeks I was there I only spent one day on a Tundra Buggy.