Do Polar Bears Migrate?

Polar bears are migratory mammals that live in the Arctic Circle. Some polar bears have small migratory areas of around 20,000 square miles, while others have larger patterns that can be more than 130,000 square miles. Polar bears, with the exception of pregnant females, do not hibernate.

The polar bear diet consists mainly of seals, which also migrate as the ice pack changes over the arctic areas. As the seals migrate, so must the polar bears. In some areas such as Hudson Bay, the ice pack melts away completely, and bears must wait until the next winter to cross the ice again. Some polar bears match their movements with the edge of the ice pack as to remain on the ice year round.

In the fall, polar bears gather near a small town in Manitoba in preparation for the annual migration across the ice of the Hudson Bay. Because they gather there annually, the town of Churchill has become a popular spot for the study of polar bears over the last 40 years, as of 2014. The polar bear migration and Beluga whale watching are the main sources of tourism for the otherwise quiet town. On average, 10,000 people visit each year to witness the polar bear migration.