Polar bear numbers in Canada “likely the highest there has ever been”

Polar bears near Churchill, Manitoba: Ward Kennan photolibrary

DNA studies have shown that polar bears and brown bears have a common ancestry. The genetic split occurred about 150,000 years ago in the late Pleistocene just before the end of the Pleistocene glaciation known as the Ice Age. They evolved to meet the conditions of the Ice Age and they continue to adapt. In their present form as polar bears they have survived previous interglacials with temperatures greater than we have at present. And far from being endangered and under threat of extinction they continue to adapt their behaviour and to prosper.

New surveys have shown that 

 “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.

The study shows that “the bear population is not in crisis as people believed,” said Drikus Gissing, Nunavut’s director of wildlife management. “There is no doom and gloom.”

Mr. Gissing added that the government isn’t dismissing concerns about climate change, but he said Nunavut wants to base bear-management practices on current information “and not predictions about what might happen.”… 

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 he hopes the results lead to more research and a better understanding of polar bears. He said the media in southern Canada has led people to believe polar bears are endangered. “They are not.” He added that there are about 25,000 polar bears across Canada’s Arctic. “That’s likely the highest [population level] there has ever been.”

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2 Responses to “Polar bear numbers in Canada “likely the highest there has ever been””

  1. Polargate investigation questions new witnesses « The k2p blog Says:

    […] The k2p blog knowledge to people or whatever interests me at the moment « Polar bear numbers in Canada “likely the highest there has ever been” […]

  2. Settled science? Karakoram glaciers, polar bear and emperor penguin numbers are all growing – not disappearing « The k2p blog Says:

    […] 2. Polar bear populations have never been as large as they are now. […]

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