Scarbrow was back again at Dymond Lake EcoLodge for the Great Ice Bear Adventure in 2014 and he put on a great show for the guests!
It was the third year in a row that our “resident” polar bear had returned since first arriving with his mom. And since then he’s survived both a wolverine attack and a more recent stint in polar bear jail, as noted by the green dot painted on his back this year.
“I’m guessing he’s about seven or eight years old now,” said Nolan Booth, Director of Lodge Operations at Churchill Wild. “About three years ago we were walking along the shore and we noticed he and his mother had dragged a seal into the willows. We later saw a wolverine eating the seal and the next day Scarbrow showed up at the Lodge with a big cut on his face, so you can imagine what happened. He was only a cub then. That doesn’t happen to him now. Two years ago we saw him chase what was probably the same wolverine away.”
Now personable, recognizable and totally relaxed around guests, Scarbrow will follow people to the runway north of the Lodge and also check out the other bears. He’s finally started to spar with them now that he’s a teenager.
“He’s into it now,” said Booth. “And he also got himself into some trouble in Churchill this year. We noticed the green dot on his back that they mark them with when they’ve been in polar bear jail. So he likely went on a helicopter ride and got dropped off 22 km north of Churchill. But he was back at the Lodge again this fall.”
Scarbrow stops in for breakfast on Great Ice Bear Adventure
Venturing to Dymond Lake became a habit for Scarbrow after his mom brought him to the Lodge in his early years. They preferred to stay away from the coast, where the bigger bears were. It was safer for the young Scarbrow around the Lodge and both he and his mother knew it.
“When you fly into the Lodge you can see the larger polar bears on the coast sometimes,” said Booth. “While the smaller bears and their mothers are laying low away from the action. Everything they do is calculated. They think before they do things. They don’t like to take chances. If they’re unsure, or find themselves in an unfamiliar situation or they think there is a chance they might not win, they’ll generally avoid any type of conflict.”
Now older and more confident, Scarbrow is no longer afraid to venture out to the coast, but something keeps him coming back to the Lodge. (On that note, award-winning photographer Robert Postma of Robert Postma Photography will also be back again in 2015 as a photo leader on the Great Ice Bear Adventure from November 7-13!)
“Late in the season last year the ice blew in from the north and there were seals on the coastline,” said Booth. “Of course Scarbrow got a seal. He’s very healthy and quite a successful hunter. We thought we’d seen the last of him for the season, so we said our goodbyes. The next morning the wind changed, the ice went back out, and he came back to the Lodge. He knows our program. He likes it here. He knows not to get too close. Other bears can be more aggressive, whether it’s about food or not. They’re curious and we have to deter them from coming too close early in the process.”
Polar bears live in a silent world. The sounds they hear are water lapping on the shore, ice cracking, wind, rain, basically the sounds of nature. Yelling accompanied by the clapping of hands is most often enough of a deterrent to keep the bears at a distance. Scarbrow shares his world at the Lodge with gyrfalcons, snowy owls, moose, ever-elusive wolverines and sometimes other polar bears, Like “Rocky”, a big polar bear that sometimes sleeps in the willows behind the Lodge.
“I’m surprised Scarbrow keeps coming back,” said Booth. “He knows there is no food here for him but he keeps coming. I hope he visits us again next year. People love him at the Lodge. He just likes to hang out there. It’s comfortable for him. And he’s a delight for the guests.”
See you in 2015, Scarbrow!
“An amazing experience being so close to these magnificent animals in their environment. To have a polar bear walk up to our group and check us out at close range and then walk off was breath-taking.” — Taraterrific, TripAdvisor