Monthly Archives: November 2018

Polar bears waiting for ice on Russian coast of Chukchi Sea threaten village residents

Ryrkaypiy on the Chukotka coast of Russia is similar to Churchill, Manitoba: both human settlements are of similar size and are close to where polar bears wait for sea ice to form in the fall and where some pregnant females make their maternity dens in preparation for the birth of cubs over the winter (Durner et al. 2018:xxii). Sea ice advances from the west along the Chukotka shore and bears cannot move offshore to resume hunting until the sea ice reaches the village of Ryrkaypiy. According to the Siberian Times, the village is again having problems with local polar bears, as they have for the last several years (including 2013).

Mother with cubs Russia_shutterstock_71694292_web size

“At least twelve polar bears are inside the village, with some of them paying daily visits.

The rest are within three kilometres away.

‘We have to constantly scare the bears away with signal rockets, so far thanks to efforts of the Bear Patrol we manage well’, said acting head of Ryrkaypiy Yevgenia Malakhova.

The large group of bears started to form a month ago when they came close to Cape Kozhevnikov.

‘Now the bears moved close to the village, they also walk back and forth all along the shore line. The animals are irritated because they are ready to leave the area and start hunting in the deep sea, but ice is too thin’, said Malakhova.

All 760 locals are aware of the dangerous situation and take extreme care when moving around the place.”

More below, including map and ice chart.

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Fall polar bear habitat update: 3 mkm2 Arctic sea ice increase in the last two weeks

What a difference two weeks make! When the seasonal minimum Arctic sea ice extent occurs in September, polar bear doom-mongers always forget to tell you that within two months, sea ice will return to virtually all regions where polar bears have spent the summer on land, including Hudson Bay. Just as it did in 2007, when polar bears did not die by the thousands due to lack of fall sea ice, polar bear habitat is reforming.

Polar bear tests thin ice_Laidre_UW_no copyright_taken22August2015_sm

This year, the seasonal minimum came on 23 September. Despite the fact that the US National Snow and Ice Data Center proclaimed that “unusual warmth” in the Arctic continued during October, over the last two weeks sea ice expanded from 6 mkm2 to 9 mkm2. At the current rate of ice growth documented by sea ice charts (see below), Arctic sea ice will be wide-spread by 23 November.

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Fabulous polar bear science book for kids now available in Dutch

Given my strong Dutch heritage through my maternal grandfather (via Middelharnis), I am especially proud to announce that the Dutch translation of my popular science book, Polar Bear Facts and Myths (suitable for children aged seven and up), is now available through Amazon worldwide in paperback.

Crockford FM cover Dutch Translation 2 Nov 2018_Final_2 inches

The translation was done by native Dutch speaker Marcel Crok who is a journalist and science writer in The Netherlands (see @marcelcrok on twitter). In Dutch the book is called Feiten en Mythes over IJsberen.

Please pass along to your friends, relatives, and colleagues in North America and abroad. The English version is still available in paperback and ebook formats, and the Norwegian translation will be available shortly. Other translations in French and German are already available.

Why this book is important

Children around the world have been led to believe that only a few hundred polar bears are left in the world. However, the relentless messaging that polar bears are doomed (and that this is all the fault of humans) is fortunately false. It is time that children learned the truth, including those that speak and read only Dutch.

Here is the good news the children need to hear: polar bears have not been driven to the brink of extinction by anthropogenic global warming. In fact, there are many more polar bears now than there were 50 years ago and the global population of polar bears is a healthy size, despite the fact that summer sea ice has been at levels predicted to cause catastrophe since 2007. Polar bears have managed just fine with low summer ice: against all expectations, their number have increased in recent years, not declined.

Polar Bear Facts & Myths is an uplifting science book about survival in the Arctic that is sure to please children and parents alike.

shutterstock_473571037 (2) purchased 3 November_smaller

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Churchill’s polar bear problems took time and money to resolve

Churchill, Manitoba is proud of its management of problem polar bears and rightly so. But it took time and money to implement the solutions that allowed Churchill to function as it does today, and that should be a lesson for other Arctic communities that have only really started to have problems with polar bears in recent years.

Churchill polar bear_mother_with_cub 2009 Wikipedia

For those who want to understand the problems facing other communities, including Arviat (formerly “Eskimo Point”), a town 260 km north of Churchill. Arviat has a population more than three times the size of Churchill and has been having significant problems with bears since about 2007. I’ve made an excerpt of an excellent paper written by Ian Stirling and colleagues that was published back in 1977 (Stirling et al. 1977).

It describes in detail the problems Churchill had with polar bears in the 1960s and 70s when bear numbers were on the rise — and the various steps that were taken to try and resolve them (even by the time the paper was written, not all of them had been adequately resolved, see Kearney 1989).  It’s a fascinating read — see it here.

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