Category Archives: Conservation Status

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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My scientific blog posts contributed to the failed Antarctic Treaty bid to protect Emperor penguins

There is actual evidence that two of my fully-referenced blog posts caused some Antarctic Treaty delegates to reject a bid for special protected status for Emperor penguins. Activist heads have exploded.

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China ruins Antarctic Treaty attempt to enact special protection status for Emperor penguins

China has thwarted an attempt by members of the Antarctic Treaty organization to enact special protection status for the Emperor penguin, which would have generated a ‘Species Action Plan’. Apparently, such a proposal required a consensus of all parties and China wouldn’t go along.

But as we know from past actions by the IUCN Polar Bear Specialists Group against former member Mitch Taylor, such impediments are easily sidestepped when a decision requiring consensus doesn’t go your way.

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Fat polar bear killed on the south shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the Gaspé Peninsula

A fat polar bear was killed early this morning (Sunday 1 May 2022) near a small town on the north shore of the Gaspé Peninsula, the portion of Quebec that New Brunswick in the Gulf of St. Lawrence after being tracked by wildlife conservation officers since yesterday. Two other sightings were reported in the Gulf earlier in April on the opposite shore, which could possibly have been the same bear.

This is why there are polar bears in my recent sea ice tsunami novel set in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in March 2026. Davis Strait polar bears are thriving, having increased in number dramatically since the 1970s, due to hunting bans and abundant harp seals. Until the last few years, Davis Strait polar bears haven’t been spotted this far south in the spring since 1849 (with a few other historical reports even further south in the 1500s). The last time a polar bear was spotted onshore in the Gulf area (and got this much attention) was in late March 2017.

These recent polar bear sightings in the Gulf of St. Lawrence likely reflect a population that’s at its peak size or still increasing. The photo above shows the bear was in excellent condition after feeding heavily on harp seal pups. Unfortunately, from where it ended up, it likely wouldn’t have made it back to the receding pack ice off Labrador in time to return to Davis Strait for the summer.

Excerpt below from the CBC story (‘Polar bear spotted on Gaspé peninsula killed by wildlife officers‘; 30 April 2022), but first you’ll need the map of the area. Charts for sea ice conditions at the time follow.

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State of the Polar Bear 2021: polar bears continued to thrive

The current health and abundance of polar bears continues to be at odds with predictions that the species is suffering serious negative impacts from reduced summer sea ice blamed on human-caused climate change.

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Accepted sea otter population estimate at 1911 as inaccurate as rejected polar bear estimate for 1960s

Sea otter specialists, without shame or apology, routinely use a benchmark figure of ‘about 2,000’ for the pre-protection population size of the species at 1911 based on extremely limited evidence yet polar bear specialists refuse to accept a benchmark figure for the 1960s despite the existence of eight published estimates made by experts at the time. Sea otters came much closer to extinction than polar bears did and are not out of the woods yet, for reasons that are not entirely understood (Doroff et al. 2021).

Andrew Derocher, 22 February 2022: ‘There never was a population estimate of global abundance in the 1960s.’

Derocher’s statement and those of his colleagues, discussed at length in The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened, makes them look biased and unprofessional. There is absolutely no rational scientific justification for holding this stance.

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Statement of polar bear population size estimates by polar bear scientists in 1965

Polar bear scientists in 1965 published a consensus statement on population size, with no caveats that these were ‘wild guesses’ or not to be taken seriously. They quoted some of the same authorities that I did when I suggested a plausible baseline figure. Andrew Derocher, Steven Amstrup and others who say there has never been population estimates for the 1960 or 1970s are not defending science, they are lying to protect their ‘polar bears are all gonna die because of climate change’ narrative. No other biologists do this, even those who insist the species they study are at risk from human-caused global warming. You should ask why.

This controversy is why archives like the one I created yesterday are so important: they make it impossible to re-write history as some insist on doing:

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Archive of IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group status and meeting reports back to 1965

The IUCN/SCC Polar Bear Specialist Group have recently modernized their website, which apparently required them to remove all meeting reports and status documents going back to 1968. Since I had downloaded all of them for my own research, I have archived them here for anyone wishing to assess the accuracy of statements made by PGSG members about what they did or said in the past, or to understand the history of the organization. I did something similar a few years ago regarding the administrative reports used in 2007 to support the decision to list polar bears as ‘threatened’ under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA), which disappeared from the US Geological Survey website: they can now be found here.

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Fact checkers defend activist scientists because they agree with them not because they are right

The so-called fact-checkers are out again trying to insist one side of a scientific debate is wrong and another is right because they happen to agree with one side. That’s advocacy, not science.

Here are some facts (check the links provided for additional references):

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Promoters of polar bear catastrophe in Hudson Bay gloss over recent good ice conditions

Hudson Bay has been oddly slow to freeze this year, which has led to a predictable bit of hand-wringing from certain biologists reiterating prophesies of polar bear population collapse. However, since 2009, the last time that freeze-up was anywhere near this late was 2016. In other words, far from this years’ late freeze-up being a picture of ‘the new normal,’ conditions in 2021 are actually unusual compared to the last twelve years.

Perhaps the last bear leaving Cape Churchill for the sea ice, 4 December 2021.

Moreover, considering that 2021 fall ice formation for the Arctic in general is well ahead of 2016 (and every year since, except 2018), it’s hard to see why human-caused global warming caused by ever-increasing CO2 emissions explains the slow freeze-up of Hudson Bay. Timing of Hudson Bay freeze-up has always been highly variable from one year to the next (Castro de la Guardia et al. 2017: Fig. 3, copied below). The average freeze-up date in the 1980s was 16 November ± 5 days, while from 2005-2015 this had shifted about a week to 24 November ± 8 days (Castro de la Guardia et al. 2017:230). This year freeze-up was later than usual but last year and the three years before that the ice froze as early as it did in the 1980s. Cue the zombie apocalypse.

UPDATE 11 December 2021: see chart below from Andrew Derocher on the position of tagged WH bears at 10 December.

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