Two other bears slept and played nearby as the fight broke out in a snow storm.

David C Schultz, the photographer, spent five days in the Wapusk National Park in Manitoba, Canada, capturing this series of wonderful images.

He sat just 40 metres away from the bears, along the shore of the Hudson Bay, as they waited for it to freeze over.

They will soon head out to hunt ring seals for the winter.

Mr Schultz, 53, said: “I watched for about three hours as four polar bears lay sleeping and rolling around in the snow, basically being lazy.

“The tundra buggy driver positioned us so we could take advantage of the wind blowing the powdery snow off their coats and surroundings.

“That gave me an opportunity to get some beautiful and more dramatic back-lit images when the bears decided to show a little more activity.

“You sit for hours with the cameras at the ready then all of a sudden the bears go at it – but that only lasts a few minutes.”

He added: “They were extremely playful at times and they managed to entertain themselves and me.

“I had seen this group of bears almost every day and they do have their individual personalities.

“There was one bear which seemed to be the troublemaker of the group – the one that would go and start a fight with one of the others while it was sleeping.

“Or he would go over and fall on top of another only to use it for a pillow.

“He had the scars to prove he had been in a few sparring matches.

“Most of the fights are more in play this time of year with the bears testing each other’s fighting skills and strength.

“I was able to observe them day after day just being themselves in their natural environment.”