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On The Ground With Polar Bears

Hudson Bay, Manitoba - August 2015
Northern Manitoba, and specifically the town of Churchill is known as the "Polar Bear Capital of the World". During the summer months, the bears have no sea ice to hunt on, so they are forced onshore for several months. I teamed up with bear expert Matthias Breiter and we went out onto the tundra, south of Churchill at Nanuk Lodge where we observed the bears on the ground, sometimes up close. We also collected numerous bear scat samples that we later brought to the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg for analysis to determine what these bears are eating in the summer when their preferred food, seals, are not available.
 
We were filming an episode of Angry Planet.

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The white bears are pretty easy to spot in the summer.
Mother and cub, along the shore of Hudson Bay.
The Angry Planet team, getting close to a very curious male bear. He approached us, but we were able to keep him back using nothing more than body language.

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A bear stands up on its hind legs to get a better look at us.
A very big, and likely very pregnant female.
The team returning from a successful bear encounter. We were armed with guns and bear-flares, but never needed to use them.

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The bears often prowl the low tide area, looking for any food that might have washed up.
Backlit bear.
A marker to show the size and scale of these huge bear tracks.

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A rare bit of bright sunlight.
Curious bears, but mom wasn't interested in getting any closer to us with her cub.
This curious male get quite close to us as rain showers approached.

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A large, female polar bear between us and our transportation. We had to wait for her to eventually wander off.
Silhouette along the shore.
A beautiful looking storm at one of the many streams we had to cross.

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These custom-built, 8-wheel drive vehicles were perfect for getting around on the tundra. They were totally open though, providing no protection from the elements, or from any potential bear attacks.

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While at Nanuk Lodge, we had a great display of the northern lights.
Northern lights, and one of the custom-built off road vehicles for use on the Canadian tundra.
Aurora Borealis at Nanuk Lodge in northern Manitoba.

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Antlers and the northern lights.
One of the lodge buildings, lit up by the northern lights.
This was one of the best aurora displays I've seen in a while.

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