Posted onAugust 16, 2023|Comments Off on Conservation officers misleading the public about polar bear problems in Churchill
Canadian government-funded media outlet CBC ran a story this morning about problem polar bears in the town of Churchill, Manitoba, the self-described “Polar Bear Capital of the World” that contains some very misleading statements from Manitoba Conservation officers.
Breakup of sea ice on Hudson Bay was earlier this year than it has been in more than a decade (17 June) and some people are trying to hype the significance of this phenomenon to support a tenuous link to human-caused climate change, even though bears out on the ice this spring were reportedly in good condition and one of the problem bears captured on 8 August was also in good condition (a male weighing 910 lbs, photo above). Unfortunately, reports for similar early breakup years in the early 2000s have not been made public. However, I’ve been keeping track of these Polar Bear Alert Program Reports since 2015 and have read the available literature about their history: these records simply do not corroborate the statements in this CBC account.
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.
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 onApril 23, 2023|Comments Off on Netflix polar bear star dies in Svalbard days after being tranquilized; her orphaned cub is shot
Early in the morning on Good Friday (7 April), a mature polar bear sow with a cub at heal was chased with snowmobiles away from a recreation area used by locals on the west coast but drowned after she escaped into the water. Her cub, likely a yearling male, attacked authorities trying to retrieve her body and was shot.
Posted onApril 19, 2023|Comments Off on ‘Less ice means more conflicts with polar bears’ narrative not supported by scientific evidence
In another failed prediction, a new study on the number of polar bears killed in self-defense in Svalbard, Norway did not find the expected correlation with lack of sea ice or more tourists (Vongraven et al. 2023). Contrary to expectations, fewer bears were actually killed in self-defence as sea ice declined between 1987 and 2019.
Money Quote from the abstract:
“…ice cover had no significant impact on the odds for a [polar bear] kill.”
“Poor ice conditions for polar bears at Svalbard this year. Low ice will make tough hunting conditions this coming spring. Time to plan for more human-bear conflicts unless conditions change.” [13 Feb 2023 tweet, my bold]
Posted onMarch 30, 2023|Comments Off on Southern Labrador coastal landscape dominated by fat polar bears in March
Recent reports out of southern Labrador highlight how common it is to find polar bears onshore at this time of year. The small coastal community of Black Tickle seems to take the prize for the highest number of incidents and sightings but Happy Valley-Goose Bay is the somewhat surprising contender. [see correction below] Photo below is from Black Tickle.
Since early March, polar bear sightings in Newfoundland and Labrador have been common. The bears, of course, have come south on the Labrador Sea pack ice looking for fat newborn harp seals, which are now so abundant in the region that nearly a year’s worth of food could probably be consumed in a week or so. It appears that already well-fed bears may look around for what else could be added to their menu or just need a break to digest between meals. Photos of some of the bears sighted are all in good or excellent condition, and few of the animals seem to be intent on causing real trouble for locals–a far cry from the bear that wandered off the ice into Wales, Alaska earlier this year and killed a young mother and her infant son.
Posted onMarch 15, 2023|Comments Off on Birthing season for harp seals in Labrador Sea just in time to feed hungry polar bears
The main birthing period for NW Atlantic harp seals has arrived. Local populations of ringed and bearded seal pups will soon follow but in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in eastern Canada, the pupping season for harp seals that is usually in progress by this time has likely been redirected north due to lack of suitable ice conditions. Sea ice off Labrador and Newfoundland is in good condition and this is where the vast majority of the global population go to give birth (ca. 7.6 million vs. 1.5 million in the White Sea and 434,000 in east Greenland).
Posted onMarch 10, 2023|Comments Off on Polar bear sightings and sea ice conditions in Newfoundland & Labrador 2023 vs. 2017
Conservation officials issued an alert to residents of coastal communities to be aware of polar bears coming ashore over the last week in northern Newfoundland and southern Labrador, after a woman photographed a bear outside her home on Tuesday morning (7 March 2023). Since no bears in this subpopulation are tracked with satellite radio collars, we have no idea if there are a few dozen bears — or a few hundred of them — hunting on the ice and available to come ashore when the opportunity arises.
Posted onFebruary 17, 2023|Comments Off on Low mid-winter polar bear habitat in Barents Sea spawns warnings of more human-bear conflicts
There’s abundant sea ice in the Bering, Greenland and Labrador Seas, although less than usual in the Barents Sea because strong winds drove the ice north. Any time there is a bit less sea ice than usual the catastrophists begin caterwauling but this time the rhetoric is a little different.
Posted onFebruary 6, 2023|Comments Off on Polar bear that mauled to death Alaskan mother and baby was an adult male in poor condition
The veterinarian who examined the bear responsible for the fatal attack in Wales, Alaska, three weeks ago said the bear was an “older” adult male in poor physical condition: the most dangerous bear for anyone to encounter. Recall the armed cruise ship guard who was ambushed and mauled by a desperately thin bear in July 2018 in the Svalbard archipelago–and only survived because his colleague was able to shoot the bear quickly. In this most recent attack, Summer Myomick and her 1-year-old son, Clyde Ongtowasruk didn’t stand a chance as they were ambushed in a driving snowstorm just steps from the safety of the community school they had just left.
Results of a complete necropsy won’t be available for months. Quotes from the news report below.