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Black wolf referees polar bear sparring match at Nanuk. Jiangou Xie photo.

Black wolf referees polar bear sparring match at Nanuk. Jiangou Xie photo.

by Lodge Manager Emri Canvin. Photos courtesy of guest Jiangou Xie and guide Steve Schellenberg.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the events that took place at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge during our latest Churchill Wild photo expedition.

The morning began with high hopes that our guests would be graced by the presence of sparring polar bears, and while we always do our best to position everyone for unique wildlife encounters, today the stars really aligned.

While enjoying a gourmet breakfast, a gorgeous clean white male bear came in close to inspect one of the historical cannons outside the lodge. Perhaps his ancestors heard their roar on Hudson Bay as the trade routes were being protected hundreds of years ago.

Once the coast was clear for a safe exit from the secured compound, the guides slipped through the gate and had the guests in awe, as sparring polar bears showed up at the first location of the day with an odd solo male in the background!

Wolf pack surrounds polar bears at Nanuk. Steve Schellenberg photo.

Wolf pack surrounds polar bears at Nanuk. Steve Schellenberg photo.

And just when we were wondering how we could possibly top this, howls started to echo along the coast. There they were… a pack of nine timber wolves patrolling their territory and looking for game.

It didn’t take long before the group was encompassed by sparring polar bears, playing wolves, and the wild howls of these mystical canines. The bears were chasing the wolves and then the game would turn against the chaser, as the two groups exhibited their wild version of playground politeness.

Wolf chasing polar bear at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. Jiangou Xie photo.

Wolf chasing polar bear at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. Jiangou Xie photo.

At one point, one of the youngest of the seven bears sharing the ice with the pack, rolled onto his back as if to invite a playmate for tussle in the snow. And just when we thought we’d seen it all, two sets of polar bears began to spar, with the wolf pack looking on as though they were cheering for the victor.

You just can’t script something like this, no matter how hard you wrack your imagination.

The day wrapped up with the wolf pack positioning themselves on the runway for a quick inspection of our facility. Then, with a howl like a low pitched freight train, the pack disappeared into the east. Not far however, as we were soon chilled by the distant calls of the alpha male.

And the aurora borealis danced.

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