Category Archives: Conservation Status

No more WEF backroom deals for Sir David Attenborough?

On the first anniversary of Fallen Icon, I wonder if Sir David has made his last backroom deal? His years of relentless messaging anti-capitalist climate doom seemed like a concerted plan to build a legacy based on something other than smooth talking: I am convinced Attenborough saw the shocking film footage of walrus falling to their deaths presented in the Netflix/WWF extravaganza Our Planet as the leverage he needed to kick-start an aggressive campaign to promote action on climate change and curb capitalism. But it all collapsed at COP26 in 2021 with his failure to make any difference at all.

Attenborough made an on-camera plea in early November 2022 to promote yet another film but he hasn’t been seen in public in ages. After being oddly MIA at the Queen’s funeral last September, he’s apparently not attending the 2023 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos this week either, after making a huge splash there in 2019.

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Inuit in Arctic Canada now observing higher numbers of polar bears, says government report

A 2021 publication by the government of Canada released last month called Species at Risk in Nunavut says the region is “now observing higher numbers of polar bears“, and that management goals are “more focused on maintaining or reducing numbers in communities and in sensitive areas (i.e. bird colonies)“. Local Inuit are said to be “concerned about the increasing number of encounters and property damages” caused by polar bears.

Polar bear in Arviat, Nunavut, 3 October 2022. Chris Mikijuniak photo.

Polar bears in Canada are considered a species of ‘special concern’ (COSEWIC 2018), not threatened as they are in the USA. See the map of Nunavut below.

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Where were the starving W. Hudson Bay polar bears in 2020 if the population had declined by 2021?

Polar bears are supposed to starve before they die, the experts said. They said only a few years ago that dead or emaciated individuals onshore were evidence that many polar bears would soon be dying of starvation out on the sea ice. So, if the Western Hudson Bay (WH) subpopulation had indeed dropped by 27% by late summer 2021 as researchers claimed, where are all the photos of starving bears in the fall of 2020, the year before the count? The photo below of a thin female and cub was taken in late fall of 2021 (the year of the count) by a stationary web cam. In other words, some bears came off the ice without an optimal amount of fat because of poor hunting conditions over the winter but they were still alive. We know that 2020 had the shortest ice-free season in at least 20 years (and no similar images were captured), so bears went into the winter of 2020/2021 in good condition. Ditto for 2017-2019. In contrast to 2021, in 2016 (the year of the previous survey that also indicated a declining population size), bears reportedly came off the ice in good condition.

All I’ve seen are photos of fat bears and fat cubs, even a triplet litter in fall 2020. The shore of WH near Churchill should have been abounding with starving bears in 2020 (and in 2015), if the experts were right about starving bears preceding a population decline. More importantly, where are the studies on food-deprived bears onshore, as were done in the 1980s when WH bears were emaciated and cub survival poor (e.g. Ramsay et al. 1988)? WH bears are being used exclusively to model an implausibly pessimistic future for polar bears across the entire Arctic (Molnar et al. 2010; 2020), which means lack of good science for WH polar bears has big consequences. Covid restrictions in two of those ten years don’t excuse lack of study on this phenomenon.

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Polar bear no closer to extinction than it was 18 years ago as Arctic sea ice resists ‘tipping point’

All predictions of disaster aside, in fact the polar bear is no closer to extinction than it was in 2005 as Arctic sea ice again steadfastly resists slipping past a catastrophic ‘tipping point’ — or the ‘death spiral’, as some chicken-littles continue to call it.

In fact, the summer sea ice trend has been pretty much flat since 2007, with ice covering about 42% less area than it had done in 1979, yet polar bears in many regions are doing better now than they were in 2005, especially in Davis Strait, the Barents and Chukchi Seas and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

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Fact check: Polar bears breaking through thin ice is not evidence of climate change, it’s a drone chase

This morning, self-professed ‘climate campaigner’ Mike Hudema posted a short video of two polar bears seemingly struggling to survive as they repeatedly break through newly-formed ice, with the message “Polar bears are up against a huge problem. They are losing their habitat. As the Arctic becomes increasingly warm & sea ice disappears its harder to find a mate & food.

This was clearly designed to elicit an emotional response from viewers but it’s every bit as manipulative and false as the video of the emaciated polar bear shamelessly promoted by National Geographic as ‘what climate change looks like’, which I describe in detail in my new book, Fallen Icon (Crockford 2022a).

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Polar bears became global warming icons because biologists promoted a narrative of doom since 1999: it didn’t happen ‘by accident’

The polar bear became an ‘accidental icon’ of climate change“, claims a recent CBC Radio interview with ardent global warming promoter and polar bear catastrophist Andrew Derocher. Derocher’s insistence that the polar bear became a climate change icon “by accident” is historical revisionism. While such a statement may be attractive now that polar bears are not dying in droves as he and his colleagues predicted in 2007, that doesn’t make it true.

In the summer of 1999, polar bear biologist Ian Stirling helped produce a short doomsday film spectacular for the biggest news outlet in Canada at the time, in which he hyped his ‘climate warming’ fears about Hudson Bay polar bears, yet we are expected to believe Derocher that on September 4, 2000, Time Magazine put polar bears on its “Arctic Meltdown” cover because they ‘just happened’ to hear about an academic paper Stirling had written the year before.

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Inuit are concerned about public safety as Davis Strait polar bears numbers increase

An assessment of the health of Davis Strait polar bears by 35 Inuit polar bear experts was made public two weeks ago. Overall, these experts agree that virtually all polar bears they see are healthy and that the population has been growing over the past few decades, so much so that “public safety has become an increasing concern”. Mainstream media have ignored this report, as far as I have seen.

As we await the latest scientific population estimate of Davis Strait polar bears, completed in 2021 but still not publicly available (only a preliminary gov’t report and a summary graphic from the final report have been released, see Dyck et al. 2019, 2021) this new document (Tomaselli et al. 2022) provides the essential information we need. Polar bears are doing well with no notable changes in cub numbers or survival in the last few decades, abundance is up and reflects a real increase in numbers. There are so many polar bears that communities and individuals feel the need to take extra precautions in protecting themselves from bears.

Oh, and ringed seal numbers are way down: that could be a critical bit of information we won’t get from the polar bear academics.

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Expert admits polar bears in Svalbard are thriving despite the greatest loss of sea ice in the Arctic

In an article published last week, polar bear specialist Jon Aars is quoted as saying that Svalbard bears are “unexpectedly” thriving. However, he fails short of admitting that the bears don’t really need summer ice as long as they are well-fed in spring, which they have been for the last two decadesthis year included.

Aars said the sea ice in this area is declining more than twice as fast as anywhere else in the Arctic. But the polar bears here — unexpectedly — are thriving. [E. Haavik, Svalbard’s polar bears persist as sea ice melts — but not forever, 21 July 2022; my bold]

Spring 2018, Barents Sea

The suggestion by Aars that the Svalbard archipelago could one day be ice-free for the entire year is speculative hyperbole but even if that were to happen, it would only mean the permanent movement of 300 or so Svalbard bears to Franz Josef Land (still within the Barents Sea) where ice conditions are less volatile.

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New paper polar bears attracted to garbage dumps blames lack of sea ice without any evidence

A paper published yesterday discusses polar bears that get into human garbage and cause other problems due to community attractants. Most of the incidents recounted and the issues they’ve raised have been reported by the media and are ones I’ve discussed here over the last few years in detail, including here and here, as well as in my recent book (Crockford 2019).

Churchill dump 2003. Dan Guravich photo, Polar Bears International handout.

All you need to know about the motivation behind the paper comes from the authors’ acknowledgement:

This paper developed from a meeting in Churchill, Manitoba, in autumn 2019 where the issue of dump use by polar bears arose. We thank Dan Cox [a photographer for PBI] for suggesting exploration of this issue and Polar Bears International for arranging this meeting.

So, six months or so after my book came out in March 2019, in which these issues were discussed in detail, polar bear experts decided it was time to write a paper on the topic. The open access paper, by Tom Smith and colleagues (Smith et al. 2022), is accompanied by an online essay published the same day by the lead author and picked up at least one cheer-leading media outlet via Reuters. See what you think.

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Svalbard polar bear data for spring 2022, low June ice unlikely to affect health or survival

Sea ice around Svalbard, Norway has receded dramatically over the last few weeks and is now at levels similar to 2018 and 2006. But the data are in for the 2022 spring season and they show the bears are still thriving.

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