Peter Mather

Home / Peter Mather

Peter Mather

Monday, September 13, 2021

THE LAST ICE BEARS⁠⠀

An ongoing series on Yukon Grizzly Bears who delay hibernation into winter, to catch the last of the spawning salmon. The world is changing quickly, and we are seeing its’ effect with wildlife across the North. Winter is arriving later every year, rivers are disappearing due to receding glaciers and the salmon are quickly disappearing. When I photographed Ice Bears 2017, the Chum salmon run on the Kluane River was over 16,000. In 2020 that same run saw just over 100. This disappearance of salmon and winter, means we may be seeing the last of this unique natural phenomenon of ‘Ice Bears’. When Grizzly Bears fish for salmon in temperatures that drop into the -20s Celsius, the creek water freezes to the fur creating hundreds of icicles that dangle from their coats. When they walk and shake, they sound like a chandelier swaying in the wind. The First Nations people of the Yukon tell stories of how the frozen icicles served as an impenetrable shield that protected the bears from arrows. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Photographed on the traditional territory of the Champagne Aishihik, Kluane and Vuntut Gwich’in First Nations.⁠⠀

Peter Mather loves (In order) soccer, photography, McDonald’s and living healthy. His photo stories revolve around life in the North, with a focus on Wildlife and community culture. He is a fellow with the International League of Conservation, a Lumix Ambassador and represented by National Geographic Image Collection and can often be found wandering lost in the Yukon woods with Opa. You can follow his photography and peculiar humour on instagram at @matherpeter.

NFRCC Speaker Series 2021 -2022