Posted onMay 13, 2023|Comments Off on Polar bears in W. Hudson Bay are in good shape, says researcher. So are numbers really falling?
We’ve got ourselves another round of field data–i.e., facts–not fitting the polar-bears-are-starving-to-death narrative. According to polar bear specialist Andrew Derocher, Western Hudson Bay polar bears his team saw in April while installing collars and ear tags were in good shape this year, as he said they were last year. There was no spring field work in 2021 and 2020 but in 2019, he also said the bears he saw were in good condition.
Two years in a row of bears in good condition in spring–with no mention of starving bears–does not fit the picture of a population supposedly declining due to starvation. The most recent population count for WH, which garnered wide-spread media attention just before Christmas last year, claims that a 27% decline in numbers took place between 2017 and the fall of 2021 even though sea ice conditions had been good during those five years as well. It’s a perplexing situation. Makes me really wonder what that survey report actually says, but it still hasn’t been released, five months after the results made news around the world.
Posted onOctober 7, 2021|Comments Off on Alaska polar bear researchers claim poor sea ice limited spring field work in 2021 more than 2019
According to an Inside Climate Newsreport, polar bear researchers at the US Geological Survey had trouble darting bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea in March-May of 2019 and 2021. They claim their research program was hampered by thinner-than-necessary ice for safely landing the nearly 4,000 lb. outfitted helicopter (with crew and gear) in 2019 but that conditions in 2021 were even worse (it is implied work proceeded in 2020 despite pandemic restrictions but no data for that year are discussed).
However, this claim of worse conditions in 2021 is not corroborated by reports from sea ice experts and ice charts for the Southern Beaufort this spring, where thick first year and multiyear ice was present from March through June. Ice didn’t begin to pull away from landfast ice to form patches of open water near the Canadian border until late April 2021 compared to early May in 2019 (as it did in 2016), as shown in the video and charts below. Moreover, the researchers oddly fail to mention that the presence of thin ice and open water in spring is essential for polar bear survival in the Southern Beaufort, a fact which has been documented and discussed in the scientific literature by their colleagues.
Posted onOctober 23, 2020|Comments Off on Polar bear research on hold in Western Hudson Bay due to COVID-19 restrictions
After spring polar bear research was cancelled in Western Hudson Bay (and pretty much everywhere else) this year because of Covid 19 concerns, it now transpires that fall research is out as well. Travel restrictions implemented by government departments and university administrations (not the health department) apparently mean fall programs to assess the health and status of polar bears in Western Hudson Bay have been put on hold.
Triplet litter of polar bear cubs spotted in Wakusp National Park, Western Hudson Bay. 23 October 2020. Courtesy Explore.org.
Posted onJune 6, 2018|Comments Off on Critical evidence on W Hudson Bay polar bears still not published after 25 years
Polar bear researchers have been doing capture/recapture studies in Western Hudson Bay for decades yet most of the data claimed to be critical for assessing effects of human-caused global warming on this species have not been published. I raised this point in one of my early blog posts (27 Sept 2012) but the situation has not changed in 6 years. Here’s an update.
Years ago now, in an oft-cited paper, Stirling and Derocher (2012) claimed to summarize the evidence that climate warming was negatively impacting polar bear health and survival. Several life history parameters were considered crucial, particularly body condition.
Despite almost a dozen papers (and perhaps more) on various aspects of WH polar bear health and life history studies based on capture/recapture data published since 2004 (e.g. Castro de la Guardia 2017; Lunn et al. 2016; Pilfold et al. 2017), none have reported the body condition data that supposedly support the claim that sea ice loss is having a severe impact — and the same is true for litter size, proportion of independent yearlings, and cub survival.1
Posted onMarch 24, 2015|Comments Off on Hypocrisy of Arctic biologists: fossil fuels for me but not for thee
It takes a special kind of gall for biologists to plead for more funds to count and study Arctic marine mammals they claim are endangered by the use of fossil fuels, when their proposed field work cannot be done without the use of fossil fuels.
The paper is a decidedly odd mix: a plea for more research funds for increased monitoring of animal populations plus strident advocacy for regulating “greenhouse gases.”
The authors repeatedly used the phrase “greenhouse gases” in their paper (seven times) but did not mention “fossil fuels” even once, despite the clear relationship between fossil fuel use and the phenomenon known as anthropogenic global warming (AGW), examples here and here. Are they self-deluded — or deliberately disingenuous about their own contributions to a problem they insist is the greatest threat to survival of Arctic marine mammals? Continue reading
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Posted onFebruary 24, 2014|Comments Off on Foxe Basin aerial survey – a watershed moment for polar bear research, Part 1
While researching thepopulation status of Foxe Basin polar bears I came across an issue that seems to have garnered relatively little attention outside the polar bear community – Inuit objections to the handling of polar bears during mark-recapture surveys and the effect of this on polar bear research in Canada.
Foxe Basin is a large polar bear subpopulation region that encompasses the northern portion Hudson Bay into the area west of Baffin Island, see map below (courtesy IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group).
Mark-recapture research methods routinely used by polar bear biologists became especially contentious in Foxe Basin during a population study initiated in 2007/2008, with Inuit residents voicing objections and biologists defending its practice. The following year, the mark-recapture effort was halted and an aerial survey took its place.
The aerial survey has been completed and a report on it was released in 2012 (Stapleton et al. 2012; see previous post for results) but we’ve heard very little about what happened to that mark-recapture study and why the Government of Nunavut pulled the plug on it. I plan to change that with the next couple of posts.
I’m not claiming to understand the nuances of the story because I’m only going by available documents. However, I think it’s important to shine some light on this issue since it has clearly changed the shape of polar bear research in Canada. Continue reading
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