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polar bears sparring

Polar Bears Sparring, Photo from Valerie Abbott (2012)

More Polar Bear Teasers: Sparring in Churchill

We will see many different polar bear behaviors on the Polar Bear Cams this fall, including bears eating kelp, sleeping soundly, sniffing new arrivals, and checking out the people on the Tundra Buggies®. One of the most exciting behaviours to watch when the temperatures drop is sparring.

Sparring, when done in the fall, is polar bear play fighting. This is a way for the bears (usually males) to size each other up and test their own strength. We often see sparring bears bite each other’s necks, smack each other with their paws, and stand on their hind legs in a showdown. Most “fights” end when one of the bears has simply had enough and walks away. Sparring helps polar bears figure out how well they might do when the stakes are higher, like during mating season when they compete for mates and the consequences are much larger. However, we don’t expect to see sparring unless the temperature is below 0°C, otherwise the bears can easily overheat.

Sparring is great fun to watch, especially when you know the chances of the bears getting hurt is small. This fall we will keep an eye out for play fighting and will let you know when we see it on the cams!

See what all the fuss is about here, and find your winter gear… polar bear season is coming soon!

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