I’m a pretty lucky guy. As National Wildlife Federation naturalist, I get to go on television to promote conservation, often with real wild animals.  It’s a very cool job, and I love it. Today, however, I am even luckier.

Today, I got to see polar bears. Up close. In the wild. Holy wow!

An inquisitive female polar bear checks me out.
You see, I’m writing this from Churchill, Manitoba, on the banks of Hudson Bay. I was invited here by Polar Bears International to participate in the Tundra Connections® program. I’ll be moderating a series of webcasts this week all about polar bears, other tundra wildlife, their Arctic environment, and the impacts of climate change on these species.

Today was our first day out on the tundra. At this time of year, polar bears are gathering on the shores of the bay, waiting for the sea ice to form so they can go out and hunt seals, their primary source of food.  This makes it one of the best places on the planet to see wild polar bears.

The bears did not disappoint. Within a few minutes of heading out on the Tundra Buggy® we spotted a female bear who wandered over to us and propped herself up on the tire for a closer look.

Shortly after that, we encountered two males sparring, a playful, wrestling behavior that helps males size each other up, reducing the likelihood of bloody and potentially fatal battles later when they’re competing for mates.

Two male polar bears sparring.
 The good news is that you can be just as lucky as I was today.  Through the Tundra Connections webcasts, you can see the polar bears in real time, just as I’m seeing them.

Not only that, you’ll also hear from and interact with polar bear expert Andy Deroscher from University of Alberta, snowy owl biologist Denver Holt of the Owl Research Institute, and climate change expert Kassie Siegel of the Center of Biological Diversity.  You really don’t want to miss this.

Get the Tundra Connections webcast schedule here.

A lone polar bear patiently waits for the sea ice to form so it can hunt seals and break its months-long fast.