Terrestrial Maternity Denning of Polar Bears in the Eastern Beaufort Sea Area


  • Ian Stirling
  • Dennis Andriashek




Aerial surveys, Animal behaviour, Animal distribution, Animal population, Denning, History, Hunting, Traditional knowledge, Pack ice, Polar bears, Spatial distribution, Banks Island, N.W.T., Canadian Beaufort Sea, Inuvialuit Settlement Region mainland, Banks Island waters, Amundsen Gulf


Observations on the location of polar bear (Ursus maritimus) maternity dens, the locations of females with young cubs on the sea ice just after leaving their dens, and observations of Inuvialuit hunters were recorded in the eastern Beaufort Sea area from late March to mid-May 1971-79 and 1985-87. Maternity denning occurs annually on the west and south coasts of Banks Island but it has been recorded less frequently along the mainland coast of the southern Beaufort Sea. This distribution pattern could have been influenced by the pattern of sea ice formation in the fall and anthropogenic factors. Denning females and females accompanied by young cubs have been protected for almost 20 years, and maternity denning along the mainland coast appears to be increasing as a result.

Key words: polar bear, denning, Beaufort Sea, Banks Island