Perfect time to buy EATEN: 30% discount is having a Black Friday sale and paperbacks are 30% off, one per customer.

Great time to buy your copy of “Eaten” if you haven’t ordered it already. Save some cash, get a great read. Details here – a terrifying polar bear attack thriller set in 2025.


Use promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout, from 26 November 2015 12:00 am EST to 30 November 2015 02:59am EST only.

W Hudson Bay polar bears now on the ice hunting but killer whales could be trapped

According to reports from folks on the ground in Western Hudson Bay, most polar bears were out on the ice resuming seal hunting by the 20th or 21st November at the latest (some got started quite a bit earlier). That’s less than 2 weeks later than the average date in the 1980s (which was November 8).

Sea ice Canada 25 Nov 2015_with Churchill

However, the rather odd pattern of freeze-up this year may not be good news for any killer whales still remaining in Hudson Bay – their access to the open ocean is already virtually blocked by ice.

UPDATE 26 November 2015: What a difference a day makes! Look at the spectacular ice development overnight along the west coast of Hudson Bay and in the central portion of the bay since yesterday (below).

Canadian Arctic Nov 26 2015_CIS

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Russian polar bear scientist critical of using radio collars

In an update to an earlier story from last month about a male polar bear spotted near Kaktovik with a tight satellite radio collar, a Russian biologist has voiced some some serious criticisms of the use of these devises.

polar-bear-radio-collar_CBC Oct 28 2015

In another news outlet, Andrew Derocher has finally admitted publicly that the Kaktovik bear with the tight collar is a male and is”likely his” (Global News, 23 November 2015; “Is this polar bear really being choked by a research collar?”). The male bear appears to have been fitted with a collar some time between 2007 and 2011. The collar should have fallen off by now but hasn’t. Derocher suggested maybe the collar isn’t really too tight and the blood might not belong to the bear. And that if the bear really wanted the collar off, he “…will be able to remove it himself.”

The criticisms of the use of collars are well worth reading.

UPDATE 25 November 2015: Another CBC report, not much more useful information except confirmation this is a male bear.
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IUCN Red Book officials forced scientific standards on polar bear predictive models

As I reported Thursday, the IUCN announcement of a new Red List assessment for polar bear got the usual overwrought attention from international media outlets. However, not one of these contained a quote from a polar bear biologist.


Steven Amstrup, science spokesperson for activist conservation organization Polar Bears International, has so far had nothing to say to the media. Yet, Amstrup was a co-author of the IUCN Red List report. Not until late in the day following the release of the report did his his organization’s website post a short, bland news report (“Climate Change Still Primary Threat to Polar Bears”).

Similarly, Ian Stirling, Andrew Derocher, Nicholas Lunn (also a co-author of the IUCN Red List report), and former WWF employee Geoff York – who are usual go-to guys for polar-bears-are-all-going-to-die media frenzies – have so far been silent and invisible on this issue.

In addition, while the IUCN press release [backup here: 2015 IUCN Red List press release_Nov 19 2015] included a quote from IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) chairman Dag Vongraven, as of this morning (21 November, PST), the website of the PBSG contains no mention of this decision – no item in the “News” category  and, more importantly, no update of the status table  or global estimates to reflect the changes contained in the report  (even though they obviously knew it was coming months ago: the report was submitted to the IUCN Red List 27 August 2015).

In my opinion, this silence says it all: polar bear specialists know this assessment is a severe de facto critique of their 2008 assessment (as well as Amstrup’s predictive models) and it’s a big step backwards for their conservation activism. I expect they are silent because they are royally pissed off.

However, this assessment is good news because finally, some standards of scientific rigor have been applied to polar bear predictive models – even though the PBSG were still been allowed to pretend that summer sea ice coverage is critical to polar bear health and survival (Crockford 2015).  Continue reading

Only a 70% chance that polar bear numbers will decline by 30% by 2050

Despite the stupendously unwarranted hype being generated out of the recent release of the 2015 update to the IUCN Red List status assessment for polar bears, in fact the prognosis is better than it has been for years.

That’s because polar bear experts have been forced by the IUCN standards committee to acknowledge the great deal of uncertainty in their predictive models. They now admit there is only a 70% chance that number will decline by 30% over the next 35 years: only slightly higher than a 50:50 chance.

That means there is a 30% chance that the numbers WILL NOT decline by 30% over the next 35 years. See my detailed analysis, where you will find copies of the report and links to the online IUCN Red List assessment.

That has not stopped all major news outlets from treating this report as a new pronouncement of gloom:

CBC, Canada: (“Polar bear numbers to fall as Arctic ice shrinks: study
Population will decline by more than 30% over next 35 to 40 years, experts say”). Except the first sentence admits this is merely “likely”, not “will”:

“Polar bear populations are likely to fall by more than 30 per cent by around mid-century as global warming thaws Arctic sea ice, experts said on Thursday in the most detailed review of the predators to date.”

Mirror UK: “Polar bears facing extinction as numbers ‘to fall by a third over next 40 years’: There is now a high probability numbers of the species will decline by more than 30%, experts claim”

Express UK: “Nearly 8,000 polar bears to ‘DIE OUT’ as vulnerable giants hurtle towards ‘obliteration’: POLAR bears face a “decimation” in the next couple of decades with more than 30 per cent in population set for complete wipe-out in the most terrifying warning yet.”

The Guardian UK: ” Climate change is ‘single biggest threat’ to polar bear survival: ‘High probability’ of a 30% decline in polar bear numbers by 2050 due to retreating sea ice, IUCN study finds”

[Except, as I noted in my previous post, the IUCN report did not evaluate extinction risk].


IUCN Red List says global polar bear population is 20,000 – 31,000 (26,500)

The long-awaited 2015 IUCN Red List assessment for polar bears was released today (Wiig et al. 2015) and it includes some rather astonishing details − including the fact that the population trend is unknown.

polar_bear_usfws_no date_sm

1) It confirms the global population size I published in May 2015 (20,129-32,558; average 26,344). See the graph below, now amended to reflect this point. If global numbers do decline over the next 35 years, it will be from a high point not previously acknowledged by the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG).

Crockford OFFICIAL polar bear numbers to 2015_IUCN concurrs Nov 18

2) The current population trend is listed as: ? Unknown. [NOT declining – if anyone claims it is, send them here: IUCN Red List U. maritimus]

3) It puts the generation time for polar bears at 11.5 years (range 9.8-13.6), a huge drop from the 15 years used in previous predictive models. This change makes a big difference to the model results: three generations (the minimum period needed to show a trend) are now 35 years rather than 45 years.

4) It states there is a 70% chance of a 30% decline in polar bear numbers by 2050 and a 7% probability of a reduction > 50% if sea ice declines as predicted, but noted the large amount of uncertainty in these projections. That means there is a greater chance that numbers will not decline by 30% in the next 35 years (a 30% chance) than that the numbers will decline by 50% or more by 2050. That sounds like good news to me.

5) It will continue to list polar bears as Vulnerable. PBSG biologists managed to prevent polar bears from being listed as Least Concern or perhaps Near Threatened. But they had to give up a lot to get it.

6) The report supplement (Wiig et al. 2015 supppl.) explained why they did not calculate extinction probabilities and extinction is not mentioned at all on the IUCN Red List polar bear assessment page. This assessment only considers the probabilities of a decline in population size by 2050.

Yet, a spokesperson for the IUCN apparently stated (The Guardian, Climate change is ‘single biggest threat’ to polar bear survival; 19 November 2015 ) that:

“There is a high risk of extinction and the threat is serious,” said Dena Cator of the IUCN’s species survival commission. “You could consider polar bears to be a canary in the coal mine. They are an iconic and beautiful species that is extremely important to indigenous communities. But changes to their sea ice habitat are already being seen as a result of climate change.”

Apparently Dena Cator does not expect that people will read the report or find the assessment page on the IUCN Red List website – or she’s giving her personal opinion rather than explaining the report results. More on the points above and links to the report supplement pdf below, with quotes.
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Eaten: A novel, now available

My new novel has been published! The paperback is ready to order and will ship immediately; the ebooks are available for pre-order and will download November 30, 2015.

More detail and links here:

Paperback book or Kindle ebook can be ordered on (US and Canada), click here: [temporary Kindle link here, until Amazon gets it linked to the paperback: ]

In the UK, find the paperback here and the Kindle version here.

ePub version (via Smashwords, which ships to Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo), see

LIMITED TIME OFFER for the ePub version: November 30, 2015 until December 3, 2015 only

     FREE with promotion code GW98Q (not case-sensitive)

This will make a great Christmas/holiday present for friends and family who don’t read science books – give them an alternative with this great story with a bit of science lite.