Great pictures of a polar bear encounter with a submarine.
Great pictures of a polar bear encounter with a submarine.
The Inuit say there are more Polar Bears.
Everyone says there are more polar bears, and they’re not scared of us. Ten years ago, they’d run when they saw a human. Now they’re no longer shy. They keep on coming.’
The climate scientists say: Don’t believe your lying eyes.
In places such as Arviat, adds Professor Andrew Derocher of the University of Alberta, there might appear to be more bears, ‘but you can’t equate seeing more bears with there being more bears’.
So who is right – the scientists and campaigners or what the Nunavut government calls Inuit ‘TEK’ – traditional ecological knowledge? Despite the bears’ iconic status, it is impossible to give a definitive answer.
Scientists use two main methods to estimate the changing size of polar bear sub-populations: ‘mark and recapture’, which requires bears to be tranquillised and tagged, and aerial surveys. But both have huge margins of error.
According to scientists, three of Canada’s 13 bear sub-populations are in decline, including West Hudson Bay.
However, a new Nunavut government bear management plan cites TEK from Inuit communities that contradict this: they say none of the bear populations are shrinking, while nine are increasing.
Meanwhile, a study published in 2016 revealed past cases where TEK and scientists disagreed about bear sub-populations – and claimed the Inuit were eventually proven right.
Moreover, if the West Hudson bears have declined recently, this may have nothing to do with sea ice. Since 1979, the long-term trend in ice across the Arctic is down.
But in Hudson Bay, a paper by Prof Derocher and others suggests that although the sea is frozen for three weeks less than in the 1980s, this has not got worse since 2001.
Meanwhile, the latest survey of the Chukchi Sea, between Russia and Alaska, where there has been a marked decline in sea ice recently, says it has a stable and healthy sub-population of bears.
The Chukchi Sea finally has a polar bear population estimate! According to survey results from 2016 only recently made public, about 2937 bears (1522-5944) currently inhabit the region, making this the largest subpopulation in the Arctic. This is exciting news — and a huge accomplishment — but the US Fish and Wildlife Service responsible for the work has been oddly mum on the topic.
Not only that, but an extrapolation of that estimate calculated by USFWS researchers for Chukchi plus Alaska (the US portion of the Southern Beaufort Sea subpopulation) was estimated at 4437 (2283-9527), although with “significant uncertainty.” Nevertheless, it means the 2016 estimate for Alaska could be roughly three times what it was in 2010: a whopping 1500 or so, up from about 450 (or about 225-650) for the same area estimated during the last survey (Bromaghin et al. 2015: Fig. 5a).
Too Many Polar Bears … or killing 600 a year isn’t keepin the numbers in check … or The Inuit want to sell more hides.
There are too many polar bears in parts of Nunavut and climate change hasn’t yet affected any of them, says a draft management plan from the territorial government that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking.
The proposed plan — which is to go to public hearings in Iqaluit on Tuesday — says that growing bear numbers are increasingly jeopardizing public safety and it’s time Inuit knowledge drove management policy.
“Inuit believe there are now so many bears that public safety has become a major concern,” says the document, the result of four years of study and public consultation.
“Public safety concerns, combined with the effects of polar bears on other species, suggest that in many Nunavut communities, the polar bear may have exceeded the co-existence threshold.”
Polar bears killed two Inuit last summer.
The plan leans heavily on Inuit knowledge, which yields population estimates higher than those suggested by western science for almost all of the 13 included bear populations.
Scientists say only one population of bears is growing; Inuit say there are nine. Environment Canada says four populations are shrinking; Inuit say none are.
Read the rest.
Polar Bears in northern Canada are doing fine.
Except for the ones shot and skinned and pelts shipped to Asia.
One of the people who oversees an Indigenous hunt of polar bears says the population is doing well, despite heart-wrenching photos online suggesting some bears are starving.
Every year, the Nunatsiavut government awards polar bear licences to Inuit hunters living in the northern Labrador settlement area.
The Inuit set a quota of 12 polar bears this winter. Nunatsiavut wildlife manager Jim Goudie said all 12 were taken within the first seven days of the season.
Goudie said it’s just the latest evidence that polar bears are on the rebound in northern Canada — a trend he said officials have been recording for years.
“There are lots of signs of bears,” he told CBC Radio’s Labrador Morning. “Lots of bears and a continuation of what we’ve seen over the last three or four years.”
Those who hunt bears are legally obligated to donate any meat they don’t use, but they are free to do what they want with the pelts.
Most opt to sell them to wealthy buyers from Canada to East Asia, and each pelt is embedded with a computer chip to prove it was acquired through a legal hunt.
Climate change is NOT to blame for polar bears breeding with grizzly bears
One of the many damaging effects of climate change put forward by scientists is that shrinking habitats are causing polar and grizzly bears to mate more.
This hybridisation could dilute polar bears’ DNA which will further drive down the animals’ already dwindling numbers, experts suggest.
But a new study reveals that this inter-breeding is natural and is in fact not a consequence of global warming.
It had previously been assumed climate change causes grizzlies or ‘brown bears’ to invade northern regions while polar bears are pushed onto the sea ice later than usual.
The new results show however that an abundant flow of genes among different bear species occurred plenty of times in the past.
Polar Bears are fine. Except for the ones shot by hunters and turned into pelts for rich Chinese.
… there are about 15,000 polar bears across Canada’s Arctic. “That’s likely the highest [population level] there has ever been.”
There’s much at stake in the debate. Population figures are used to calculate quotas for hunting, a lucrative industry for many northern communities. Hunting polar bears is highly regulated but Inuit communities can sell their quota to sport hunters, who must hunt with Inuit guides. A polar-bear hunting trip can cost up to $50,000. Demand for polar-bear fur is also soaring in places like China and Russia and prices for some pelts have doubled in the past couple of years, reaching as high as $15,000.
The Nunavut hunting quota in the western Hudson Bay area fell to 8 from 56 after the 2004 report from Environment Canada. The Nunavut government increased it slightly last year but faced a storm of protest. Over all, about 450 polar bears are killed annually across Nunavut. Mr. Gissing said a new quota is expected to be announced in June.