Posted onAugust 20, 2021|Comments Off on Polar bear habitat update at mid-August
Oddly, after light winter ice coverage on Canada’s east coast and a slightly earlier sea ice breakup on Hudson Bay, the Arctic melt season has stalled. That’s not my opinion but the observation of the sea ice experts at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC):
Sea ice loss during the first half of August stalled, though ice in the Beaufort Sea is finally starting to weaken. The Northern Sea Route appears closed off in 2021, despite being open each summer since 2008.
Overall, ice coverage is well above what it was in 2012 (the lowest September extent since 1979) and many years since:
Posted onAugust 11, 2021|Comments Off on Foxe Basin polar bear attack leaves three people seriously mauled, airlifted to hospital
The attack happened yesterday afternoon (10 August) about 2:30 PM local time near the community of Sanirajak (listed as Hall Beach on ice charts), which is in Foxe Basin, Nunavut (population about 800). There are few details yet on the human victims of the mauling other than that they were two women and a man. All three were badly injured. They are now in hospital and expected to survive.
It appears the bear died as a consequence of the attack but there has been no mention of its condition, age, etc., or the circumstances of the attack. There is no ethical reason for blaming this broad-daylight attack on lack of sea ice (although some will try), since there is abundant ice in the region at the moment, as the charts below show. Expect an update as the story unfolds.
Posted onAugust 9, 2021|Comments Off on Tipping points, Attenboroughesque narratives of climate doom and dying polar bears
Outlandish ‘tipping point’ rhetoric is about to be regurgitated once again during the promotion of the latest IPCC report, due today. Tipping points are those theoretical climate thresholds that, when breeched, cause widespread catastrophe; they are mathematical model outputs that depend on many assumptions that may not be plausible or even possible.
Posted onAugust 4, 2021|Comments Off on Polar bear attack in Greenland gratuitously blamed on recent ‘heat wave’
A polar bear bit the hand of a member of a film crew near the Danish military base of Daneborg in East Greenland on Monday (2 August) and predictably, this has been blamed on recent warm temperatures in the region. There is no specific evidence of cause and effect, of course. The news outlet reporting the incident cites some non-specified ‘experts’ as providing the generic ‘warming makes polar bears starve or behave badly’ excuse that makes no sense in this particular instance.
Here is what the news report had to say (3 Aug), my emphasis:
Early on Monday, while the sun does not set in summer at this latitude, the bear poked his head through a poorly closed window of a research station where the documentary team was staying about 400 metres from the small base of Daneborg.
A Danish Arctic military unit based in Greenland said the bear bit the hand of one of the three male team members before they used warning pistols to force the animal to flee.
Transported first to Daneborg, the injured documentary maker had to be evacuated to Akureyri, a town in Iceland.
Already blamed for five incidents until now, the bear returned again later in the morning and then again overnight Monday to Tuesday when it broke a window of the research station before fleeing.
“The local authorities have from now on categorised the bear as ‘problematic,’ which allows for it to be shot dead, if it returns,” the Danish military unit said.
Any bear causing problems in this region would have just come off the ice, since three weeks ago there was plenty of ice available offshore a bit to the north (see chart below for 7 July). Virtually all bears are at their best condition at this time of year, except for young, inexperienced bears or those that are sick or injured. Warm temperatures would not be causing any bear to be desperately looking for food unless it was desperate for some other reason (sick, injured, or an under-nourished young bear). However, nothing is stated in this report about the physical condition of the bear, its approximate age or its sex, even though it has been seen multiple times. Young male bears, for example, are far more likely to become problems near communities than any other age class (Wilder et al. 2017), because these bears have to compete with older, larger bears to keep whatever seals they manage to kill.
Note the reliance on un-named ‘experts’ at the end of the same news report:
Experts say the retreat of the ice pack, the hunting ground of the polar bear, forces them to stay on land more often and they find it harder to find food and sustain a species already considered vulnerable.
Although still rare, the close encounters with humans are increasing as bears more frequently approach inhabited areas in their search for food, environmental protection officers say.
What generic pap! The community has a problem bear on its hands, a situation which northern communities across the Arctic must contend with on a continual basis. Even if there was ice offshore, there would be the possibility of bears coming ashore and causing problems.
Wilder, J.M., Vongraven, D., Atwood, T., Hansen, B., Jessen, A., Kochnev, A., York, G., Vallender, R., Hedman, D. and Gibbons, M. 2017. Polar bear attacks on humans: implications of a changing climate. Wildlife Society Bulletin, in press. DOI: 10.1002/wsb.783 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wsb.783/full
Comments Off on Polar bear attack in Greenland gratuitously blamed on recent ‘heat wave’
Posted onJuly 27, 2021|Comments Off on A literary review of my polar bear attack thriller, with all the condescending attitude you’d expect
For your amusement, I present a book review of Eaten from an Austrian academic specializing in contemporary literature by the name of Michael Fuchs. I came across his book chapter last week, buried deep within Google offerings, while looking for something else. I laughed all the way through it.
Here is the abstract:
“This chapter draws on Margaret Atwood’s vision of Canada as a Gothic space, examining how contemporary texts continue to invoke imagery of human and animal as antagonists competing for the same space. Fuchs analyzes a corpus of three “bear horror” fictions, the horror film Backcountry (2014) and two novels, The Bear (2014) by Claire Cameron and Susan J. Crockford’s near-future polar bear-themed Eaten (2015). It argues that animal predation on humans provides a powerful symbolic vehicle for bridging the human–animal divide, as it overrides the theory of human exceptionalism, offering a critical view of the entanglement of humans and nonhumans in the Anthropocene.”
A friend that I shared the essay with commented:
“My favourite sentence (new word of the day, class, please use “diegetic” in a sentence):
“These constant slippages between ontological levels puzzle the reader in ways similar to how Anna is confused by the goings-on in the diegetic reality.” [pg. 263]
Posted onJuly 22, 2021|Comments Off on Western Hudson Bay polar bears: still some out on the sea ice, some causing trouble
As of Monday (19 July), more polar bears had come ashore near Churchill and on the shores of Wakusp National Park but some are still out on the bay. The pattern of ice breakup this year means most bears will come ashore well south of Churchill and make their way north over the summer and fall. There have been two Churchill ‘problem’ bear reports so far but not one for this week, so I’ll go ahead and post without it.
Posted onJuly 18, 2021|Comments Off on As much Beaufort Sea polar bear habitat at mid-July 2021 as there was in 1982
Beaufort Sea ice coverage is about average for this time of year, again failing to decline in lock-step with other Arctic regions. Will there be lots of fat bears onshore like there was in 2019? Only time will tell.
Posted onJuly 9, 2021|Comments Off on Polar bears have begun to come ashore on Western Hudson Bay
So far, the first evidence I’ve seen of a bear ashore in Western Hudson Bay was one photographed near Churchill Manitoba on 28 June (below).
However, by 5 July, the first of six collared females from Andrew Derocher’s WH study (below) had also come ashore, as did others along the shore of Wapusk National Park. This is not ‘early’ – just earlier than the last few years. Like last year, however, there is still a fair amount of sea ice left on the bay and some bears seem to be choosing to stay out longer on what ‘experts’ describe as unsuitable habitat. As you can see on his bear tracker map, Derocher uses a filter that shows only ice >50% concentration because he and his buddies have decided that bears so dislike anything less that they immediately head to shore as soon as ice levels fall below this threshold.
Posted onJuly 3, 2021|Comments Off on Constant dire predictions have been an attempt to counter effective criticism of polar bears as AGW icon says outgoing PGSG chair
In an unexpected statement, Dag Vongraven (the out-going Chairman of the Polar Bear Specialist Group) suggests that much of the incessant dire warnings of doom about the future of polar bears from PBSG members has been a counter-measure to offset the effective efforts by myself and others to expose the flawed rhetoric this group promotes.
It is important to realize that this range [i.e. their polar bear population estimate] never has been an estimate of total abundance in a scientific sense, but simply a qualified guess given to satisfy public demand.