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Interactions between Polar Bears and Overwintering Walruses in the Central Canadian High Arctic

Wendy Calvert and Ian Stirling
Bears: Their Biology and Management
Vol. 8, A Selection of Papers from the Eighth International Conference on Bear Research and Management, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, February 1989 (1990), pp. 351-356
DOI: 10.2307/3872939
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3872939
Page Count: 6
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Interactions between Polar Bears and Overwintering Walruses in the Central Canadian High Arctic
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Abstract

There are few records of predation by polar bears (Ursus maritimus) on walruses (Odobenus rosmarus), although their distributions overlap extensively. During the late winter and early spring from 1981 through 1989, we recorded interactions between polar bears and walruses in the central Canadian High Arctic, where walrus movements are severely restricted in the winter by limited areas of open water for breathing and haulout holes. Predatory behaviour of bears and anti-predator behaviour of walruses were observed. We found evidence that polar bears made wounding but non-fatal attacks on 3 walruses, killed 3 walruses, and probably killed 4 others. One walrus was frozen out of its breathing hole and vulnerable to predation. Although the vulnerability of walruses to polar bear predation would vary with habitats and seasons, it is clear that polar bears are important predators of walruses in the central Canadian High Arctic in late winter-early spring.

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