What with polar bear populations higher than they were 50 years ago and with many bears onshore during the ice-free season, a few polar bear attacks are to be expected – but how does the behaviour that drives those attacks compare with their closest evolutionary cousin, the grizzly?
I’ve done some summer reading on this topic, which I’ve summarized below. The results may surprise you.
In what looks like a follow-up to last week’s CBC documentary, The Politics of Polar Bears, the London (UK) based DailyMail published interviews with polar bear biologists Mitch Taylor and Andrew Derocher (September 9, 2014).
The CBC film did have a “one scientist vs. another” flavor about it and this article definitely echoes that approach. My comments below on Derocher’s insinuations and questions about starving bears and global warming.
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Sea ice habitat
Tagged caribou, conservation, DailyMail, Derocher, fasting, goose eggs, Gormezano, ice-free season, Mitch Taylor, polar bears, Rockwell, sea ice, sea ice decline, starving, survival, terrestrial foods, weight loss, western hudson bay
“Blizzards, we had fog — we had to sleep in the helicopter, on the sea ice one night, because we couldn’t fly anywhere,” Markus Dyck, senior polar bear biologist with the GN, told Nunatsiaq News Sept. 5.”
Fog was the theme of polar bear research this summer in Queen Maud Gulf, otherwise known as the M’Clintock Channel polar bear subpopulation region.
The ice has been heavy in that region as well, according to a the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and reported yesterday in another story (“Heavy pack ice in NW Passage ice creates tough conditions this year: Pack ice clogs Queen Maud Gulf“).
For maps showing where M’Clintock Channel and Queen Maud Gulf actually are, see the maps — and more quotes — below.
Posted in Population, Sea ice habitat
Tagged biopsy dart, heavy sea ice, helicopter survey, M'Clintock Channel, Markus Dyck, Northwest Passage, NSIDC, polar bear, population estimate, population survey, Queen Maud Gulf, tagging
Here is the August 2014 follow-up to my post on the July 2013 track map for female polar bears being followed by satellite in the Beaufort Sea by the US Geological Survey (USGS) – “Ten out of ten polar bears being tracked this summer in the Beaufort Sea are on the ice.”
See that post for methods and other background on this topic, and some track maps from 2012 (also available at the USGS website here).
The USGS track map for August 2014 is copied below (Fig. 1).
Compare this to July’s map (Fig. 4). The 20 bears from May (down to 13 in June) are now down to 11. All seven of the bears outfitted with glue-on satellite transmitters in April [either males or subadult animals] have either moved out of the area or their tags have fallen off or stopped transmitting. This means that all of the bears shown on the maps below are females.
At the end of August, nearing the minimum extent of ice for this year, seven bears were on the ice and only four were on land.
Posted in Sea ice habitat
Tagged Alaska, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, polar bear habitat, polar bear movements, polar bears, satellite collars, sea ice, sea ice reference page, Southern Beaufort, tracking polar bears, USGS
Well, sort of — what they did was provide a logical fallacy reply to an almost incoherent comment by a PBI Facebook supporter who had watched the documentary and complained of bias (such a predictable response).
See what you think, screen-cap below (taken September 3, 2014 at about 2PM Pacific Time.
[UPDATE added September 4, 2014 at 8:30PM Pacific, see below]
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Derocher, documentary, endangered, Environment Canada, Facebook, IPCC, IUCN, logical fallacy, man behind the curtain, Polar Bear Specialist Group, polar bears, Polar Bears International, politics of polar bears, sport hunting, threatened, trophy bears
Umbrage alert! Last night, a half-length short form of the powerful and balanced documentary “The Politics of Polar Bears” aired across Canada on the CBC’s flagship TV news program, The National.
Right after it aired, they followed up with a lengthy online summary by the producer of the film, Reg Sherren (“Polar bears: Threatened species or political pawn?”, September 2, with video of the 19 minute short program). Check out the comments below it! Excerpts and my comments below.
[Links to the full length film here and in my previous posts here and here]
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Population
Tagged CBC, Derocher, documentary, endangered, global warming, Mitch Taylor, polar bear, politics of polar bears, population estimate, predictions, Reg Sherren, sea ice, The National, threatened, video, warm interglacials, western hudson bay
The CBC in Canada is pretty much a mirror image of the BBC in the UK, ABC in Australia and PBS in the US. So you might appreciate my shock at the almost unbelievable balance contained in the recently broadcasted CBC documentary, “The Politics of Polar Bears: Tracking the Celebrity Bear.”
The film is a profound change from the hype and pessimism that has dominated the polar bear issue in Canada and abroad, supported unchallenged by the CBC. Finally, TV viewers were given some decently balanced perspective on the status of polar bears in Western Hudson Bay.
If the take-away message tipped towards reason and optimism rather than panic over the status of polar bears, it’s because the evidence was strongly in that direction.
Posted in Conservation Status, Population, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Churchill, declining sea ice, Derocher, endangered, he who must not be named, Mitch Taylor, PBSG, polar bear attack, polar bears, population estimate, qualified guess, sea ice models, Steve McIntyre, threatened, western hudson bay