Tag Archives: grizzly

Polar bear news: 1st fat bear ashore in WHB, trouble in S. Greenland, and more hybrid hype

Last week, among other events, the first fat polar bear of the season was photographed on shore in Western Hudson Bay, a fat bear was run out of town in South Greenland, and media outlets spread misinformation – apparently preferring global warming hype to rational facts.

1) First polar bears have been seen onshore in Western Hudson Bay in Wapusk National Park near Cape Churchill (map below) on 18 June this year, apparently fat and well prepared for the summer fast. My informants tell me a few bears usually come ashore in June near Churchill before ice conditions make this necessary; the bulk of the population will probably continue seal hunting for a few more weeks. Those bears will come ashore along the southwest coast (near Polar Bear Provincial Park, in Ontario, see Fig. 2 below). They’ll make their way north to the Churchill area in time for freeze-up in the fall. Watch one fat bear caught on camera on 18 June, below :

2) Fat polar bear spotted in Nanortalik, Southern Greenland 18 June 2015, a bit further south than usual. People from the community drove it away, but not before taking lots of pictures.

Greenland South_polar-bear-nanortalik-08_henrik-hansen_June_18_2015

Some very cool photos, including the one above (taken by Henrik Hansen), worth a look. This bear was in excellent condition, well prepared for the summer fast ahead, whether he ends up spending it on shore somewhere (but not near this community!) or on the sea ice further north in SE Greenland (Fig. 1 below). The ice in that areas is probably broken up (~15-30% concentration) but this is enough for the bear to swim from flow to flow to make it’s way up the northeast coast where most East Greenland bears spend the summer.
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Ancestor of the polar bear by any name: grizzly vs. brown bear monikers explained

Apparently, all media outlets (except Fox News) so confused the distinction between the two common names used for the ancestor of polar bears, Ursus arctos, that they got the point of a recent news story totally wrong. An Alaskan journalist explains.

Coastal brown bears from Admiralty Island, southeast Alaska. See previous post here.

Coastal brown bears from Admiralty Island, southeast Alaska (courtesy Jim Baichtal, US Forest Service, Alaska). See previous post here.

Tundra grizzly from the Yukon (courtesy Government of Yukon Territory). These bears also occur across the north slope of Alaska and are the bears that occasionally hybridize with polar bears, as explained here.

Tundra grizzly bear from the Yukon (courtesy Government of Yukon Territory). These bears also occur across the north slope of Alaska and are the bears that occasionally hybridize with polar bears this time of year, as explained here.

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Population size estimates for grizzly bears in British Columbia, Canada

This is a follow-up to my last post, which summarized IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) polar bear population estimates and status reports, here.

I was interested to see how the PBSG population estimates compared to similar studies in other animals, so I took a look at the official 2012 population estimate for grizzly bears in British Columbia, Canada here. A couple of brief excerpts are provided below.

British Columbia is the western-most province of Canada (Fig. 1). It is roughly half the size of Greenland, while sea ice habitat of polar bears is roughly 6-7x the area of Greenland.

Just nine pages long, this grizzly bear population report is short, clear and unambiguous. While it may perhaps not explain its methods in enough detail for some folks (and it is, admittedly, a small portion of global grizzly bear territory), the report is nevertheless clear about the variations in quality of population estimates over time (which began in the 1970s and so are similar to what we have for polar bears). The report is also clear about how these historical estimates impact the current population status and trend. See Fig. 2 and 3 below for short excerpts.

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