Polar bear litters are decreasing in size due to sea ice decline resulting from climate change, according to a study published in Nature on February 8, 2011. If this trend continues as predicted, the polar bear population could be in serious jeopardy.The FACT is that Arctic Ice Extent is the highest in nearly a decade, and has again set the record for both the latest peak and the longest winter. Normally it has been melting for almost a month already.
Polar bears use their sea ice habitat to hunt their main prey, seals. As the sea ice melts at a faster pace, polar bears have less chance to build up the necessary body weight for when they come to land and hibernate – this is especially true for pregnant females.
The debate about climate change and its impact on polar bears has intensified with the release of a survey that shows the bear population in a key part of northern Canada is far larger than many scientists thought, and might be growing.
The number of bears along the western shore of Hudson Bay, believed to be among the most threatened bear subpopulations, stands at 1,013 and could be even higher, according to the results of an aerial survey released Wednesday by the Government of Nunavut. That’s 66 per cent higher than estimates by other researchers who forecasted the numbers would fall to as low as 610 because of warming temperatures that melt ice faster and ruin bears’ ability to hunt. The Hudson Bay region, which straddles Nunavut and Manitoba, is critical because it’s considered a bellwether for how polar bears are doing elsewhere in the Arctic.If you were a scientist interested in finding the truth, who would you ask? The local Inuit people of course.
The debate over the polar-bear population has been raging for years, frequently pitting scientists against Inuit. In 2004, Environment Canada researchers concluded that the numbers in the region had dropped by 22 per cent since 1984, to 935. They also estimated that by 2011, the population would decrease to about 610. That sparked worldwide concern about the future of the bears and prompted the Canadian and American governments to introduce legislation to protect them.
But many Inuit communities said the researchers were wrong. They said the bear population was increasing and they cited reports from hunters who kept seeing more bears. Mr. Gissing said that encouraged the government to conduct the recent study, which involved 8,000 kilometres of aerial surveying last August along the coast and offshore islands.How far will the extremist promoters of Global Warming alarm go to push their failed hypothesis?
Let's also not forget about renowned expert Mitch Taylor - From UK Telegraph 27/6/2009
Dr Mitchell Taylor has been researching the status and management of polar bears in Canada and around the Arctic Circle for 30 years, as both an academic and a government employee. More than once since 2006 he has made headlines by insisting that polar bear numbers, far from decreasing, are much higher than they were 30 years ago. Of the 19 different bear populations, almost all are increasing or at optimum levels, only two have for local reasons modestly declined.
Dr Taylor had obtained funding to attend this week's meeting of the PBSG, but this was voted down by its members because of his views on global warming. The chairman, Dr Andy Derocher, a former university pupil of Dr Taylor's, frankly explained in an email (which I was not sent by Dr Taylor) that his rejection had nothing to do with his undoubted expertise on polar bears: "it was the position you've taken on global warming that brought opposition".
Dr Taylor was told that his views running "counter to human-induced climate change are extremely unhelpful". His signing of the Manhattan Declaration – a statement by 500 scientists that the causes of climate change are not CO2 but natural, such as changes in the radiation of the sun and ocean currents – was "inconsistent with the position taken by the PBSG".
See also: Canadian Broadcasting; Nigel Lawson on BBC.
h/t Real Science
UPDATE: The Calgary Herald
According to Drikus Gissing, Nunavut's director of wildlife management, there is "no gloom and doom" story and "this is not a crisis situation as a lot of people would like the world to believe." In fact, he believes that Canada's polar bear count "is likely the highest there has ever been."
The survey shows a healthy bear population in what has been declared one of the most at-risk regions - the Western Hudson Bay. An aerial count revealed a population of 1,013, a number that is not significantly different that a landmark 2004 study that counted 935 bears. However, the 2004 study had predicted the polar bear population would fall to 610 bears by 2011. That means the real number is 66 per cent higher than the predicted number.
As the Hudson Bay area is considered to be a bellwether region for all polar bear populations, it appears that this particular climate change canary is feeling just fine.