Is that ice I see forming along the shore of Hudson Bay, just in time for Hallowe’en? Not enough to resume hunting but a sign that freeze-up can’t be too far off. See the ice map below and this photo posted at PolarBearAlley confirming the presence of slushy ice on the shore near Churchill.
[Map above from Canadian Ice Service updated daily, click to enlarge]
Why are the #saveourseaice folks at Polar Bears International, who have being working in Western Hudson Bay for decades, not dancing in the streets of Churchill? Environment Canada’s Polar Bear Technical Committee upgraded the status of Western Hudson Bay polar bears from “declining” to “likely stable” four months ago (details here). Why has this fabulous news not made major headlines around the world?
Figure 1. Environment Canada’s “Map 3: 2014 Canadian Polar Bear Subpopulation and Status Map,” original here. Western Hudson Bay is “WH.”
After years of being told by polar bear specialists and activists organizations like Polar Bears International and the World Wildlife Fund that the Western Hudson Bay (WHB) population is already suffering mightily because of global warming, it now appears that is far from the truth.
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status
Tagged #saveourseaice, activists, Amstrup, Assiniboine Park Zoo, Churchill, declining population, declining sea ice, Environment Canada, misinformation, polar bear, Polar Bears International, politics of polar bears, status, western hudson bay, WHB, WWF
According to maps dated June 2014, Environment Canada (EC) has changed the trend status of several Canadian subpopulations — without any announcement or publicly-available documents explaining the basis of the changes.
Figure 1. Environment Canada’s “Map 4: Series of Circumpolar Polar Bear Subpopulation and Status Trend Maps 2010, 2013 & 2014.” Original here.
And would it surprise you to learn that virtually all of these status changes reveal more good news about polar bears?
Posted in Conservation Status, Population
Tagged Canada, conservation status, Davis Strait, Environment Canada, good news, IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group, Nick Lunn, PBSG, polar bear, Polar Bear Technical Committee, population estimate, Southern Beaufort, trends, western hudson bay
Environment Canada recently posted a set of maps on its website that show it has moved the boundary between the polar bear subpopulation it shares with the USA — without a word to the media or a note anywhere.
Produced by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, there is now a short video summary of my recently-released GWPF briefing paper, which I wrote and narrated.
Watch it below:
Available also at GWPF TV: “The Walrus Fuss – Walrus haulouts are nothing new.”
The briefing paper is here.
Posted in Life History, Sea ice habitat, Summary, walrus
Tagged Alaska, briefing paper, climate change, Dr Susan Crockford, global warming, Global Warming Policy Foundation, GWPF, haulouts, Point Lay, sea ice decline, stampedes, USGS, video, walrus, walrus mortality, WWF
Inuit residents of Cambridge Bay in the Central Canadian Arctic are resisting requests by the Nunavut Government to tranquilize, collar and tag polar bears to assist in their population survey.
“A female polar bear and her two cubs dash across the ice near Gjoa Haven, where the polar bear hunt has been limited for nearly 15 years. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)” Story here, also by Jane George.
Posted in Conservation Status, Population
Tagged aerial survey, Cambridge Bay, counting bears, Gulf of Boothia, handling, Inuit, invasive research, M'Clintock Channel, mark-recapture, Markus Dyck, Nunavut, polar bear, population surveys, tranquilizer drugs
I’ve written a briefing paper for the GWPF refuting claims that huge herds of Pacific walruses hauled out on land are a sign of global warming.
Here’s the GWPF press release:
London, 20 October: A briefing paper published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation refutes claims that Arctic walruses are in distress and danger due to global warming.
The paper, written by Canadian zoologist Dr Susan Crockford, assesses the recent mass haulouts of walrus females and calves on the beaches of Alaska and Russia bordering the Chukchi Sea. The events have been blamed by US government biologists and WWF activists on lack of summer sea ice, amplified into alarming scare stories by news media around the world.
Such claims ignore previous haulouts that suggest a different cause. Scientific reports about large walrus haulouts that have occurred repeatedly over the last 45 years show that they are not new phenomena for this region.
At least two documented incidents of similar magnitude have occurred in the recent past: one in 1978, on eastern St. Lawrence Island and the other in 1972, on the western end of Wrangel Island. The 1978 event involved an estimated total of almost 150,000 walrus hauled out within in a small geographic area.
Moreover, sea ice maps for the months when known mass haulouts occurred, compared to years when they did not, suggest no strong correlation with low sea ice levels.
“The WWF and American walrus biologists have categorically linked the Point Lay mass haulout event to global warming, but available evidence suggests that’s alarmist nonsense,” Dr Crockford said.
“Blaming lack of sea ice for recent events ignores the documented factor – large population size – that drove walruses onto beaches en masse in the past, when plenty of ice was available. Conservation measures have almost certainly led to a spectacular recovery of walrus numbers over the last few years. This suggests that recent mass haulouts are more an indicator that Chukchi walrus are nearing maximum capacity than a sign of impending global warming catastrophe,” Dr Crockford added.
Here’s the paper. [Link fixed, h/t HO]
Posted in Advocacy, Sea ice habitat, Summary, walrus
Tagged briefing paper, Chukchi Sea, global warming, Global Warming Policy Foundation, GWPF, haulouts, minimum ice extent, on the beach, population size, sea ice, St. Lawrence Island, Susan Crockford, US Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, walrus, Wrangel Island, WWF
The freeze is on: from an annual low of ~5.1 m sq km at 15 September 2014, the sea ice that provides a hunting platform for polar bears is rapidly reforming.
Note that polar bear habitat world-wide is pretty well defined by the extent of sea ice in spring, with three notable exceptions. There are no polar bears (or fossil evidence of polar bears), in the Sea of Okhotsk, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, or the Baltic Sea.
Bears in some areas spend time on land in late summer/early fall but the amount of time varies widely.
Have a look at the maps below: the difference in regional coverage between the sea ice at 4 August and 16 October (73 days apart, both covering 7.3 mkm2) might surprise you.
In this part of my critique of Stirling and Parkinson (2006), regarding breakup dates in Western Hudson Bay (see Part I here), I will show that these authors also left out critical data.
Figure 1. A bear is transported to Churchill’s polar bear holding facility, from a 2011 Huffington Post article “Polar Bear Prison.”
Their correlation between number of problem bears in Churchill and breakup dates for WHB worked because some very inconvenient data were simply left out: problem bear data for 1983 and 2004.
Inclusion of that information would have shown 1983 and 2004 were two of the worst years for polar bear problems in recent history despite being late breakup years (1983 also had the last human fatality from a polar bear attack). They could have explained why they did not use the data but they did not — they simply left it out.
Amazingly, this work is being touted as “evidence” that global warming is harming Western Hudson Bay polar bears.
Posted in Advocacy, Polar bear attacks, Sea ice habitat
Tagged breakup, cherry-picking, Churchill, correlation, Derocher, early breakup, fatal attack, freeze-up, Kearney, less than healthy science, Ockham's Broom, Parkinson, polar bear, problem bears, Stirling, Towns, western hudson bay
Yes, I wondered too. After all the kerfuffle at the beginning of the month there’s been rather dead silence [see my last post here]. So I Googled and found some tidbits.
Chukchi Sea walrus, June 2014. US Fish and Wildlife Service.
An article a few days ago at one media outlet (October 8, 2014) asked someone from the WWF what happened to the ~35,000 females and calves onshore near Point Lay, Alaska — because really, who else would you ask? Or, perhaps more to the point, would anyone at USGS be expected to answer?
And one online media outlet found walrus specialists in Alaska unwilling to lay all the blame for the recent massive haulout at Point Lay at the feet of low Arctic ice levels due to global warming. See what you think.
UPDATE added below October 13, 2014
Posted in Advocacy, Sea ice habitat, walrus
Tagged Alaska, haulouts, Lara Horstmann, media hype, Nicole Misarti, Point Lay, stampedes, USGS, walrus, World Wildlife Fund, WWF