Candid images of fat, healthy bears taken over the last two years by unbiased photographers across the Arctic are representative of the state of polar bears in a world that’s warmer than it was in 1980.
Chukchi Sea polar bear on the sea ice, early August 2018. A Khan, NSIDC. Chukchi Sea bears are thriving, according to a new survey of the population.
It may seem counter-intuitive but it’s true: polar bears are thriving with less summer sea ice and there are more bears now than there were in 2005 (not a statistically significant amount more, but more nevertheless).
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Population, Sea ice habitat
Tagged cause of death, climate change, emaciated, fat, global warming, polar bears, population size, sea ice, skinny, starving, summer, thin, warming world
A man from Arctic Village (Alaska), out checking his trap-line, killed a polar bear at his cabin when it came after him: only odd things were it was the first week of January and the cabin was more than 100 miles south of the Beaufort Sea coast.
Winter is hard for polar bears, as I’ve mentioned before: it’s cold, dark, and hard to find seals. Most bears are at their lightest weight at the end of winter (March). Looking for food in the dead of winter, the bears can be very destructive as well as dangerous. See previous posts here, here, here, and here.
The map below shows how far south Arctic Village is from the Beaufort coast. This hunter is lucky he had his wits about him and his gun handy, because he came awfully close to being a polar bear’s dinner.
Here’s an excerpt of the story (my bold): “Polar bear encounter reported in Arctic Village, many miles south of normal range” (KTOO, Ravenna Koenig, 15 January 2019):
“…despite the loss of good denning areas and a shrinking habitat for hunting, Svalbard’s bears seem to be doing fine.…The sea ice season is now several months shorter, and the ice edge typically lies several degrees further north than what was normal 20-40 years ago….Polar bears can survive long periods without food, provided they have accumulated a good fat reserve during the few months in spring and summer when sea ice is present, and seals are abundant.” [Jon Aars, Norwegian Polar Institute, 2018]
Jon Aars from the Norwegian Polar Institute has written an update on the status of Svalbard polar bears for the general public (The Barents Observer, 8 January 2019, republished from a story published by The Fram Centre in their newsletter: Population changes in polar bears: protected, but quickly losing habitat).
Read the whole thing below (original has awesome photos). It reports the truth of the current situation with the usual caveats about what might happen decades into the future. Continue reading
This Nunatsiaq News editorial is worth a read (2 January 2019): Meet our newsmaker of the year: the polar bear.
“But for this year, we’re not choosing a person. For 2018, our newsmaker of the year designation goes to an entire species: the polar bear.
To earn that, the humble polar bear didn’t have to do much of anything. All they had to do was what polar bears have always done: hunt, eat, mate and protect their young.
In doing so, they caused two heart-rending Nunavut tragedies: the death of an Arviat man in July, followed by the death of a Naujaat man in August. These events have aggravated a bitter regional controversy that’s unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, especially in the Kivalliq region.”
It continues (my bold):
“But in Nunavut, the damage that environmentalists have inflicted on their cause will likely last for generations. Growing numbers of people in Nunavut not only believe polar bears are a threat to public safety. Growing numbers also believe that scientists and government wildlife managers are their enemy.
On that last point, the condescending attitudes of some researchers and government officials has been rather less than helpful.
For example, the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change said last fall, in a submission to the wildlife management board, that the Inuit position is “inconsistent with the federal listing of the polar bear as a species of special concern in Canada.”
That tone-deaf response simply reinforces the Inuit belief that governments value the lives of polar bears more than they value the lives of human beings.”
Read the whole thing here.
There is now enough sea ice off southern Labrador and the northern tip of Newfoundland for Davis Strait polar bears to come ashore looking for food. Baby seals won’t be available for months yet. And since winter is the lean season for these bears, some may seek food sources onshore. The bears come down from the area of Hudson Strait and southern Baffin Island: as the sea ice expands south, so do the bears.
Posted in Conservation Status, Polar bear attacks, Sea ice habitat
Tagged attacks, attractants, Black Tickle, Davis Strait, Labrador, onshore, polar bear, problem bears, sea ice, sightings, St. Anthony