A scary-sounding headline from the BBC today screams “Ryrkaypiy: Far-north Russian village overrun by polar bears“. A little research would have shown (as I do below) that this sort of event is not unusual for this village, there is adequate sea ice off the coast to allow polar bears to hunt for seals if they choose to do so, and the photos provided do not support the claim that almost all of the polar bears “appeared to be thin” (see photo below and others). Similar incidents happened in 2013 and 2006. Increasing numbers of Chukchi Sea polar bears is the most plausible explanation for the recent abundance of bears at this village.
BBC headline, 5 December 2019. Does that look like garbage these fat bears are feeding on or the frozen remains of dead walruses at the base of the Cape Schmidt cliff?
UPDATE 8 December 2019: A Daily Mail version of the same story (6 Dec) confirms the photo above is of bears feeding on walrus remains (not garbage) and has many more photos (plus a video) of a large number of bears, not a single one of which that I saw was ‘skinny’ (see quotes from the story below). See also the Siberian Times version (6 Dec) with the same pictures. My source for the story was an article published by the BBC, which ran the day before (5 Dec).
UPDATE 9 DECEMBER 2019: Now it’s apparently 63 polar bears threatening the village of Ryrkaypiy on the Chukotka coast, according to the Siberian Times yesterday and repeated by the Daily Mail (with more pictures and video). Russian media getting lots of mileage out of this one. The story now says the bears are feeding on “seals”, not walrus (to deflect attention over their long history of walrus/polar bear problems? Or just a bad translation?). Both stories repeat the claim that most of the bears are “skinny” despite the photos showing just the opposite: lots of fat, healthy bears.
Also, uniquely (and rather bizarrely), the Daily Mail piece claims the bears are being deprived of the “fish” they should be consuming:
“Instead of hunting for fish in deeper waters , the bears are eating seal carcasses left in autumn.
Last year army servicemen cleared the village’s shore of remains of dead seals on which the bears are feeding.“
Obviously written by someone who knows absolutely nothing about polar bears, who rarely, if ever, eat fish and certainly would not be eating fish at this time of year. Sea ice map below for 8 December 2019 from the Alaska Sea Ice Program for 8 December shows, as noted below, that there is enough ice offshore for the bears to hunt seals if they chose to do so (since eating long-dead walrus is much easier than going hunting):
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Polar bear attacks, Population, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Chukchi Sea, facts, fat, polar bear, problem bears, Russia, sea ice, thin, walrus
Polar bears leaping on the backs of belugas off Seal River, in western Hudson Bay, is being falsely promoted by the BBC’s new “Seven Worlds: One Planet” TV special as an unprecedented effect of climate change.
More specifically, the Daily Mail (30 November 2019) this morning quoted the documentary, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, as saying:
‘This extraordinary behaviour has only been recorded here, in this remote corner of North America, and only in the last few years.’
Poppycock. More climate change hyperbole from Attenborough’s seemingly never-ending litany of nonsense that’s easily refuted. There is scientific literature documenting such behaviour in Canada’s far north in the 1980s, which I included in the blog post I wrote about this phenomenon a few months ago (after National Geographic published a similar scare-story), which I have reposted below.
And from the sounds of it, there was no mention in the BBC special that freeze-up along western Hudson Bay was early again this year: for the third year in a row. So if the footage was filmed any time since 2017, the claim of accelerating sea ice loss in this region and bears on land for longer than ever is pure fantasy. PS. Fat bears are not ‘starving’.
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Life History, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Attenborough, BBC, beluga, climate change, Hudson Bay, hunting, polar bear, sea ice, Seven Worlds One Planet, shore, starving
UPDATE 6 Nov 2019: I have substantially modified this post based on receipt of the actual court documents describing the case, which is much more complicated than it appeared from the news reports quoted. Many thanks to Donna LaFramboise for passing it along! Clarifications in red, incorrect statements crossed out.
The Inuit fight in Canada with the federal government over polar bear conservation status continues. The government, led by Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, reduced polar bear hunting quotas in Southern Hudson Bay only from 28 to 23, based on the results of the 2011-2012 survey. In response, Inuit groups have submitted affidavits in federal court stating that polar bears are thriving. The court dismissed the Inuit challenge even though polar bears in Canada are not considered threatened or vulnerable to extinction, and encouraged the two parties to resolve the dispute outside the court.
This arbitrary political decision by the government undermines the scientific assessment done by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and tramples Inuit rights. The dispute was about Inuit treaty rights vs. conservation concerns regarding sustainable harvest levels, not conservation impacts from climate change, and the decision did not resolve the issues of sex-selective harvesting and defense of life kills counting against harvest quotas.
Fat healthy polar bears from Southern Hudson Bay
London lecture at the GWPF offices was splendid from my point of view and the audience seemed to enjoy themselves fully. Josh was there and sent his cartoonist’s perspective of the evening*:
*PS Thanks Josh and such a pleasure to finally meet you.
Posted in academic freedom, Conservation Status, Life History, Sea ice habitat, Summary, Uncategorized
Tagged catastrophe, GWPF, Josh cartoon, lecture, London, polar bear, science, sea ice, won't be silenced
Misplaced eco-anxiety that kids have about polar bears starts with activist biologists like Steven Amstrup, spokesperson for an organization devoted to raising climate change alarm – and media outlets like The Guardian who help them spread fears unsupported by scientific evidence.
Fat healthy polar bear male at Kaktovik, Alaska in the Southern Beaufort Sea, September 2019, Ed Boudreau photo, with permission.
You can’t get much more over the top than these statements from Amstrup today but read carefully: it’s either opinion or factual aspects of polar bear life (“we know that the bears aren’t feeding”) made to sound like new, terrifying developments that can be blamed on climate change. Continue reading
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Life History, Population, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Alaska, Amstrup, Beaufort, catastrophe, Chukchi Sea, eco-anxiety, polar bear, Polar Bears International, population decline, predictions, sea ice, shrinking sea ice
Unbelievably wrong: A psychologist has told parents to assure their children that rising sea levels might be an immediate threat to polar bears – but not to kids in the UK. She says this is “putting things into perspective” for anxious kids but is horrifyingly and almost laughably far off the mark.
The amount of ignorance about polar bears from those who still consider the species an appropriate icon for catastrophic climate change never seems to end.
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Sea ice habitat, Summary, Uncategorized
Tagged climate anxiety, concerns, eco-anxiety, extinction, Greta Thunburg, kids, polar bear, sea ice, sea level, sick with worry, threatened
We are told the Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere else in the world, yet as the internet reverberates with shrill, almost-the-lowest-ice-extent-ever stories, polar bears, Pacific walrus, and the most common ice seal species (ringed and bearded seals, as well as harp seals), are all thriving. Two new videos published by the GWPF on polar bears and walrus confront this conundrum and the conclusion is clear: if there is no climate emergency for polar bears, there is no climate emergency anywhere.
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Sea ice habitat, Summary
Tagged Arctic, climate change, climate emergency, Eemian, geology, global warming, GWPF, history, ice age, interglacial, LGM, polar bear, sea ice, youtube video