Baffin Bay polar bear population survey done, results due end 2014

From this story in today’s Alaska Dispatch (via CBC NewsEye on the Arctic), November 11, 2013, which adds a few more details regarding the progress of ongoing population surveys and the next PBSG meeting:

“The Nunavut government has wrapped up three years of fieldwork on Baffin Bay polar bears, and is preparing to release a new population estimate sometime next year….

Biologists have spent the last three autumns flying along Baffin Island’s east coast, looking for bears and using biopsy darts to collect DNA samples. The darts grab a small piece of hair and skin, then bounce off the bears — a less invasive procedure than tranquilizing and examining the animals. Many Inuit from Baffin communities, including Killiktee, joined in the fieldwork, helping biologists spot bears from a helicopter.

Now that the fieldwork is done, the research team will start analyzing the data to come up with a population estimate. They’ll also be using data collected by researchers in western Greenland, which is within the Baffin Bay population’s range.

“We recognize that it’s very important that we get this information out as quickly as possible,” says Stephen Atkinson, a polar bear biologist with the Nunavut government and the group’s lead investigator. “There are lots of people who are interested in the results, to start discussing the future of polar bear management in Baffin Bay.”

The goal is to have a final report — with recommendations — ready by the end of next year.” [my bold]

See the rest here. Map below, from previous post on Baffin Bay polar bear status.

Figure 1. The Baffin Bay subpopulation region lies north of Davis Strait (map on the left from Vongraven and Peacock 2011: Fig. 3) and management is shared between Canada (Nunavut) and Greenland. In total area, it covers 1.08 million km2 and its “suitable ice habitat in spring” (according to Taylor and Lee 1995) is 413,500 km,2 somewhat less than Davis Strait. The map on the right shows the sea ice extent at the end of March 2010 (NSIDC), the winter maximum.

Figure 1. The Baffin Bay subpopulation region lies north of Davis Strait (map on the left from Vongraven and Peacock 2011: Fig. 3) and management is shared between Canada (Nunavut) and Greenland. In total area, it covers 1.08 million km2 and its “suitable ice habitat in spring” (according to Taylor and Lee 1995) is 413,500 km,2 somewhat less than Davis Strait. The map on the right shows the sea ice extent at the end of March 2010 (NSIDC), the winter maximum.

References
Taylor, M., and Lee, J. 1995. Distribution and abundance of Canadian polar bear populations: a management perspective. Arctic 48:147-154. http://arctic.synergiesprairies.ca/arctic/index.php/arctic/article/view/1236/1261

Vongraven, D. and Peacock E. 2011. Development of a pan-Arctic monitoring plan for polar bears: background paper. Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme, CAFF Monitoring Series Report No. 1, CAFF International Secretariat, Akureyri, Iceland. Available at http://www.caff.is/publications/

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