Hundreds of polar bears in northeastern Manitoba may face an increased risk of starvation due to delayed ice formation along the western coast of Hudson Bay, conservationists say.
Higher-than-normal temperatures have prevented ice from forming in the region, putting it three to four weeks behind schedule, according to the Canadian Ice Service, a division of Environment Canada.
As a result, minimum ice cover there is the lowest since 1971, CIS forecaster Luc Desjardins said.
The formation of sea ice is critical for polar bears, which use it as a platform for catching seals and other marine mammals.
While a recent aerial survey of 333 polar bears along the bay's western coast showed the bears to be in good condition, conservationists worry the animals' good health will deteriorate quickly if ice does not form in the next few weeks.