Terrestrial Foraging by Polar Bears during the Ice-Free Period in Western Hudson Bay
Keywords:Age, Animal behaviour, Animal food, Animal population, Animal waste products, Berries, Grasses, Mosses, Polar bears, Sedges, Churchill region, Manitoba
Food habits of polar bears on land during the ice-free period in western Hudson Bay were examined between 1986 and 1992. In contrast to previous studies, feeding on vegetation during the ice-free period was common. Between August and October, evidence of feeding was found in 34% of the females and 26% of the males captured over 10 km inland from the coast. The primary forage was Vaccinium uliginosum and Empetrum nigrum berries. Feeding was most common in subadults and females. The incidence of feeding on berries varied annually from 2 to 41%. We were not able to determine the energetic importance of terrestrial foraging, but the intake may reduce the rate of weight loss of bears on land, particularly in years when berries are abundant.
Key words: polar bears, Ursus maritimus, feeding, arctic food web