Posted onJuly 30, 2023|Comments Off on Repeat of 2013 high-profile Sierra Club polar bear attack, this time with Inuit victims
Almost 10 years later to the day, another polar bear attack resulting in serious injury has taken place in the northern Labrador/Quebec region of Eastern Canada. Remember the Sierra Club lawyer snatched, tent and all, in the middle of the night on 24 July 2013, in an almost-fatal attack that was reported around the world, see here and here? This time virtually the same thing happened to two Inuuk campers on July 26, in the same general area, as reported last week by Nunavut News. This will undoubtedly renew concerns that Davis Strait Inuit have raised about their safety in the face of high population numbers of polar bears (Tomaselli et al. 2022).
Sea ice conditions were similar in both attacks. In 2013, the attacking bear appeared to be a fully adult male in good condition that had been watching the hiking party since the previous day but this year the predatory bear was described as a small “young adult” animal, suggesting it could have been a 3-4 year old female or perhaps a 2 year old male.
Yet contrary to predictions, which insisted that protracted poor ice conditions in summer would inevitably result in catastrophic rates of starvation and death (Amstrup et al. 2007; Crockford 2017, 2019), polar bears in the Svalbard region have so far not had any documented any harm to their health or population size. In fact, field data show bears in Svalbard are in better condition than they were in the late 1990s (Lippold et al. 2019), almost certainly due to the documented increase in primary productivity that has resulted from longer ice-free summers since 2003 (Frey et al. 2022; Crockford 2023).
Posted onJuly 14, 2023|Comments Off on Hudson Bay sea ice loss has not accelerated since 2014: in fact, summer ice cover has improved
This is an early breakup year for Hudson Bay but sea ice loss has not been accelerating. While some Western Hudson Bay bears have been on land for weeks, others are still out on melting remnants of sea ice, much of it invisible to satellites. This is only the third year since 2014 that the bay has had less than usual amounts of ice, which means most years since then have had normal or nearly normal ice coverage, similar to the 1980s. Hardly the ever-worsening catastrophe of sea ice loss story being spun in the media for Western Hudson Bay polar bears.
From the tracking map above, out of the 38 visible tags or collars on bears at 11 July 2023, 16 bears (42%) were on land and 22 (58%) were still out on the sea ice. That’s virtually identical to the 40/60 percent split last week when there was even more ice.
Posted onJuly 9, 2023|Comments Off on Natural flexibility explains W Hudson Bay polar bear movements at breakup better than climate change
Hudson Bay in early July this year is a mosaic of more-than-average and less-than-average sea ice coverage but apparently, only the less-than-average ice areas constitute the “early breakup” caused by climate change, and only “deniers” would say otherwise.
I say some folks are cherry picking the ice conditions that support a story line they prefer, forgetting that polar bears know better than they do when to come in off the ice.
Posted onJuly 8, 2023|Comments Off on Impressive cougar attack in Utah caught on film
This reminds me of descriptions of grizzly sows defending their young, who seem intent on scaring the sh*t out of attack victims rather than killing them, which they could easily do (Shelton 1997, 1998, 2001). This video of a terrifying attack on a runner near Provo, Utah is from two years ago but I missed it when it came out.
“I found what I thought were bobcats on the trail during a run. Turns out they were cougar cubs and their mother was not happy to see me. She escorted me for over six minutes to get me away from her cubs. Although she was acting very aggressive, the cougar had no intent on hurting me. The mother cougar was most likely caught off guard and did what she had to do to protect her cubs. Mama, cubs, and I are safe.” [Cougarkyle, 12 October 2020]
Posted onJuly 4, 2023|Comments Off on Early sea ice breakup in W Hudson Bay caused by “record breaking” warmth in 2023 but not 2015?
According to Polar Bears International, the “3rd-earliest” breakup date for Western Hudson Bay was caused by a “record breaking” heat wave in May. Western Hudson Bay sea ice hit the 30% coverage threshold used by PBI to define “breakup” on 17 June this year, prompting speculation about potential future impacts on polar bear survival should breakup come even earlier.
“This year’s break-up date of June 17 is the 3rd earliest in the 45 years of satellite-based sea ice data from Western Hudson Bay, after 2015 and 2003.” [Flavio Lehner, PBI]
17 June 2023 is day 168 on the Julian calendar used to graph the data in the image included in the PBI essay (see copy below). However, the data point for 2003 is about three days earlier, on day 166 (14 June) and the point for 2015 is on day 152 (1 June).
If “record-breaking” heat caused this year’s early ice retreat, what caused the ice to retreat more than two weeks earlier in 2015? May was warm that year along the west coast as well but obviously not “record-breaking” warmth, because the records were broken this year. In fact, whatever warmth that occurred only affected ice melt in the western sector, while very thick ice over the rest of the bay resisted melt and allowed bears to stay out many weeks later than usual.