Polar Bears in Southern Hudson Bay Losing Body Weight – Or Just Dying?

Capture A new “study” blames climate change for making Polar Bears in the southern Hudson Bay population lose weight .

The world’s southernmost population of polar bears has already lost significant amounts of body weight after decades of shrinking sea ice with breeding females suffering the most, says new research from the Ontario government.

“They’re in poorer condition now than they were in the 1980s,” said Martyn Obbard, of the province’s natural resources department, one of the co-authors of the paper published by the National Research Council.

Maybe it isn’t climate change. Maybe the biggest polar bears are being shot.

Northern wildlife officials will meet in Quebec’s arctic region Wednesday to discuss quotas on the world’s last unregulated polar bear hunt.

Hunters who kill bears from the south Hudson Bay population, which includes Quebec, Ontario and Nunavut, have a voluntary limit of 60 bears a year.

But scientists say climate change is starting to affect the population’s health and that the region’s first official quotas should be lower.

None of the various aboriginal communities that hunt those bears say they’re willing to reduce their take.

According to the first report, there are “roughly 900 bears” in the southern Hudson Bay population. If you kill at least 60 (it is after all a voluntary quota) out of 900 and if you are selling those pelts you want the biggest and healthiest bears.

Maybe the survivors (after the biggest are killed for their pelts) are smaller.

Bids for what ended up being the dearest skin, a spotless white specimen that was also over 10 feet in length, started at $7,000 and didn’t stop until they’d reached $12,400—$1,400 more than last year’s top seller, a previous record. It went to Anna and Steve Gao, whose Mississauga, Ont.-based business, Canadian Intertrade JJ Ltd., ships furs to China and elsewhere.

Early this year, word spread that hunters from the northern Quebec community of Inukjuak had killed as many as 70 polar bears last season—an enormous jump over past years and an unsustainable harvest rate for the southern Hudson Bay polar bear population

The spike in kills around Inukjuak is thought to have begun when a buyer arrived in the region and announced he’d pay big money in advance for furs.

If you look at Canada as a whole 500 polar bears are being shot:

Each year, Aboriginal hunters and foreign sportsmen pursuing the animals alongside Aboriginal guides kill some 500 polar bears (there is no federal cap, and that number depends on shifts in geographic harvest quotas and on First Nations treaties). Many of the resulting polar bear skins find their way to market.

 

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