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Partnership Profile: Polar Bears International

After more than thirty years with a polar bear on our logo, Adventure Canada recently adopted a bear with Polar Bears International. This unique partnership supports conservation research efforts and sea ice preservation. You can visit the Polar Bears International website to for an interactive map that tracks our bear.
Polar bear standing on ice

© Scott Forsyth

Meet Yuka, the Adventure Canada Polar Bear

After more than thirty years with a polar bear on our logo, Adventure Canada was finally able to name one! Yuka—formerly X19271—is a twenty-year-old female bear from western Hudson Bay. Her name means "bright star" in the Inuktitut language.

Polar Bear International sends us regular updates about Yuka’s movements, but we can also follow her on their online polar bear tracker. Below we’ve shared some of our favourite Yuka highlights from 2020.

March 13, 2020

Yuka has traveled 1838 kilometres (1142 miles) since being collared, and it’s been really interesting to watch her path! She is our northernmost bear on the tracker, and it looks like she has an affinity for the northern sea ice off Nunavut. We imagine she is lingering here because she’s found a suitable stretch of ice for hunting seals—which is critical for her and her offspring! Yuka has one yearling cub, born in a maternity den around January of 2019.

This may be her cub’s first full season on the sea ice, but chances are it’s starting to contribute to the hunting efforts. Yearlings are generally fairly helpful hunters because they’ve carefully observed their mother’s movements and methods for over a year. Nonetheless, there is still much to learn! Yuka’s cub will stay with her for another year or so, refining its hunting, feeding, and swimming skills so that it may survive in the Arctic.

Polar bear stretching showing paws

© Dennis Minty

A polar bear in Churchill, Manitoba takes a big stretch

May 7, 2020

Yuka has walked, swam, and drifted 2639 kilometres (1640 miles) since being collared, and she is still farther north than any bear on the tracker right now. Since we last checked in, she’s kept her movements fairly localized to the seas off of Nunavut. We imagine she travelled here in February and chose to circle here because it’s good hunting territory and the pickings are plentiful—especially during seal pupping season!

Yuka's cub is probably taking advantage of seal pupping season as prime time to practice its most valuable skill: hunting! In preparation for striking out on its own, it must watch and help Yuka hunt thousands of times in a wide variety of circumstances. Polar bears can first give birth to cubs at five or six years old, so at twenty years old, Yuka is surely an experienced mother and is imparting many valuable lessons to her cub. And the lesson for right now? Get as fat as you possibly can in preparation for the sea ice melting and spending the long summer’s fast on the coast surrounding Hudson Bay.

July 9, 2020

Yuka has travelled 3453 kilometers (2145 miles) in the last ten months. Early on in her sea ice traverse, she ventured further north than any other bear on the tracker this year. Alas, the last few months have brought her back south and she’s been weaving her way along the coastlines of Manitoba and Nunavut.

These final weeks on the sea ice—in which the bears will be focused on getting as fat as possible—is an important period of learning for Yuka’s young cub. This pair has less than a year left together before her cub sets out on its own. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be curiously watching this family’s movements. Yuka and her cub began their journey in Wapusk National Park—will they head back in this direction while the sea ice is still intact? Or will they come off the ice in Nunavut and walk the coastline back towards the park? Only time and some more location data points will tell!

August 21, 2020

The last available data for this year shows that Yuka and her yearling cub did in fact head back towards Wapusk National Park. We wish them well for their fast on land, and hope that the winter sea ice forms early so that they can get back out for another season’s hunt.

Polar bears international map yuka

Supporting Polar Bears International

Polar Bears International has a mission is to conserve polar bears and the sea ice they depend on through media, science, and advocacy. The radio collars placed on female bears such as Yuka can track them in real time, following their movements using Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) out onto the sea ice in Hudson Bay. This is one of the few methods that scientists have for monitoring bear movements over long periods of time, which is essential for developing an understanding of how bears are being affected by climate change. You can learn more, get involved, or make a donation at their website.

Learn more about polar bears in this article by photographer and wildlife biologist Dennis Minty, who spent two seasons working as a polar bear guide in Churchill, Manitoba. And if you haven’t yet, be sure to watch James Raffan’s web episodes or read his book, Ice Walker: A Polar Bear’s Journey through the Fragile Arctic.