Polar bears are the largest bears in the world, but if you want to see adorable miniature versions of these majestic and endangered animals in the wild, there is no better place than Wapusk National Park.
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Wapusk National Park is located in the northeastern part of the province of Manitoba in Canada. Wapusk National Park is on the western shore of the Hudson Bay, a huge inland sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Hudson Straight, and south of the town of Churchill, nicknamed “the polar bear capital of the world”. “Wapusk” is a Cree word meaning “White Bear”.
What makes Wapusk National Park special is that it is one of the world’s largest known polar bear maternity denning areas. This is where pregnant female polar bears come during the summer (after the sea ice has broken up and they cannot hunt for seals as easily any longer) and where they will stay to give birth to their cubs in November and December. During those many months, females will fast and use their fat reserve to survive inland until February or March when they make their way back to the sea ice to hunt.
According to Parks Canada, at birth, a polar bear cub is no bigger than one of its mother’s paws and weigh between one to 1.5 pounds. Adult polar bears weigh between 661 to 992 pounds for males, and between 331 to 551 pounds for females.
Those who want to see polar bear cubs in Wapusk National Park need to arrange a visit with a licensed tour operator such as Wat’chee Expeditions located in Churchill. Helicopter tours are also available. If you can’t afford a trip north, however, you can try to spot polar bear moms and their cubs using the live web cam set up in the park.
While Wapusk National Park is meant for polar bears to thrive, a recent government studies shows that the future of polar bears along the Hudson Bay is highly endangered. As reported by Reuters in December 2022, the report explains that “Canada’s Western Hudson Bay polar bear population has fallen 27 person in just five years.”