Bad News (Polar) Bears?


Famous photoshopped polar bear image: Ursus Bogus – click the bear for the story behind this faked image
Update/background story: From the Port of Churchill Polar Bear Watchers/Excursion outfit: October 12, 2010
If the summer season is any indication of what we have in store for us, this October and November there will be prodigious numbers of polar bears in the Churchill region…Another uncharacteristic trend was the frequent sightings of polar bear mothers with triplets in tow. It will be interesting to see how many of these family units are spotted in the willows and snowdrifts over the coming two months out on the tundra. It surely sets up to be a banner year for the polar bear census.

So, who are you going to believe:  a professional conservationist outfit that is actually in situ observing polar bear critters all over the place, or some bureaucrat bent on controlling your tailpipe and windpipe?

 

WASHINGTON — A federal judge ordered the Obama administration on Wednesday to review whether polar bears, at risk because of global warming, are endangered under U.S. law.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan wants the Interior Department to clarify a decision by the administration of former President George W. Bush that polar bears were merely threatened rather than in imminent danger of extinction.

“The court is not accepting the Fish and Wildlife Service argument that extinction must be imminent before the bear is listed as endangered,” said Kassie Siegel, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based group that challenged the polar bear listing.

Reed Hopper, an attorney for the California-based Pacific Legal Foundation, which opposes protections for the bears, called the ruling disappointing.

Full story here at Canadian Press

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82 Responses to Bad News (Polar) Bears?

  1. Northern Exposure says:

    Oh dear… the poley bears are under the threat of being demoted.

    What next ?
    Whale poop ?

  2. The argument that melting ice threatens polar bears is just so stupid. Pardon the vulgar term, but it fits.

    If the ice melts, the bears will be able to eat the seals that are on the shore, the seals will not remain where the ice floes were, they will (drum roll please) move to the shore. Seals have to rest, they will rest on a solid surface, oblivious to whether the surface is ice or land. Just like we saw with the walrus scare a couple of months ago, when there is no ice the mammals move to shore.

    Fact is, the bears hunt both on land and off shore, if “land” is ice or terra firma the bears don’t care. Polar bears are successful hunters and adapters and that’s why their numbers are increasing.

  3. dwright says:

    aren’t most polar bears Canadian?

  4. EJ says:

    An exponential growth rate for this species is translated to an extinction is beyond me.

    How does this happen?

  5. Jim Owen says:

    I read the FWS documents 2 years ago (ALL of them). There was no/zero/zip/nada hard data involved in the original decision. It was entirely based on model projections.

    This is science? I don’t think so.

  6. DesertYote says:

    The Center for Biological Diversity is a very dangerous Marxist organization that is in the business of using environmental law to destroy the US economy. Their primary target is property rights. Many of the suits that they have won actually impede the recovery of the endangered animals they claim to be protecting, e.g. preventing the delisting of wolves, which would have allowed their range to expand and population to increase, but would have also expanded the possible range of management tools available including limited hunting, and allowing ranchers to shoot nuisance wolves. They also invent new species when convenient, e.g. Ambystoma californium (sp?) which is actually A. tigrinum californiense, based on a invalid study from a lefty Berkeley biologist. Side note, for some reason, almost all amphibian biologists are extreme lefties. BTW, Sullivan is one of their favorite activist judges.

  7. Ale Gorney says:

    aren’t most polar bears Canadian?

    Most but some can be found in Alaska…

  8. Michael says:

    OK, I couldn’t resist. Maybe this is why.

  9. erichk says:

    Wait a minute – isn’t the biggest problem here, why is some[snip] judge even involved in this rediculous stuff? In my mind, the gratest challenge to our society – freedom loving Americans – is reining in these judges. We, through our legislators, have that power. GET WITH IT FOLKS!

  10. pat says:

    Louise has a new angle today:

    20 Oct: UK Telegraph: Louise Gray: World must start putting a value on
    nature
    Natural goods and services, such as the pollination provided by bees or
    filtration of water by wetlands, should be included in a nation’s economic
    value in the same way as GDP, according to a major new United Nations
    report.
    Pavan Sukhdev, an economist based in London, was ordered to look at the
    value of nature in the same way British economist Nicholas Stern’s famous
    2006 report looked at the financial implications of climate change. ..
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8075548/World-must-start-putting-a-value-on-nature.html

    here’s Pavan flying in for a left-leaning think tank, sponsored by an airline, recently:

    Centre for Policy Development: Pavan Sukhdev
    What is the world worth? Putting nature on the balance sheet
    3 August 2010, Sydney Opera House, Australia
    You can watch the talk on the ABC’s Big Ideas
    Miriam Lyons, Director Centre for Policy Development (CPD):
    First to the people who made this event possible, the amazing CPD staff, the
    Board, our volunteers, to, of course, our principle sponsor Qantas the major
    event sponsors, KPMG and UTS Business -without whom tonight would not have
    been possible…
    He’s (Pavan Sukhdev )also the Head of the Green Economy Initiative, which is run out of the United Nations Environment Program…
    And he is doing all of this while on sabbatical from Deutsche Bank. So, you
    know, this is kind of a hobby for him and I think that we should all give
    him an extremely warm welcome, a very big round of applause for all of the
    work that Pavan is doing in his spare time…
    Pavan Sukhdev, UNEP:
    There’s been a lot of work, a lot of reading, a lot of writing and a lot of
    travel, as you can see. And thanks to the CPD, the Centre for Policy
    Development for organising this, because it’s not often that I get to visit
    Australia – especially Sydney, a city I love, and North Queensland, where I
    shall go after I finish with you guys, and where I bought a small block of
    land many years ago when I started offsetting my footprint…
    A calculation, a much bigger calculation like this has been done by a group
    in the UK, a research group called TRUCOST…
    Carbon tax emissions, guess what? You can make business out of bio carbon
    offsets and the REDD+ scheme…
    http://cpd.org.au/2010/08/pavan-sukhdev-sydney-lecture-transcript/

    nice to know Pavan gets to fly a lot, and that he works for Deutsche “Banking on Green” Bank – http://www.banking-on-green.com/index_e.htm.

    and nice to see who is connected to our nature-loving TRUCOST:

    TRUCOST – Our Team
    includes:
    Paul Druckman – Executive Chairman
    He also is Chair of the Executive Board of HRH The Prince of Wales
    Accounting for Sustainability project
    Simon Thomas – Chief Executive
    Previously, Simon co-founded the Emerging Markets Investment Trust business
    at LCF Edmond de Rothschild and he has held senior positions at Swiss Bank
    Corporation, Nomura International and Reed International
    http://www.trucost.com/products.asp?sectionID=1&pageID=4&biog_ID=1#1

    same old same old…

  11. Ben D. says:

    Judges with the exception of the supreme court can be fired. Remember to vote no to cap and tax and other dumb stuff. Presidential elections are also being held in 2 years, so we have two more years to judge our current president.

  12. RayG says:

    Time for some amicus briefs…hint hint! Build the case for appeal if the comments above re the judge are accurate.

  13. April E. Coggins says:

    The same illogic can be applied to the wolf endangerment/reintroduction issue. There are plenty of wolves and they aren’t in any danger of being endangered. The problem is the lefties who want to put the wolves at the door of evil capitalists. The lefties file law suits to stop cattle grazing on grass on public lands, while defending the rights of non-native wolves to graze on elk, deer, chipmunks, etc. The environmental leftists are not conservationists. They are manipulators of public policy. The same concerned and enlightened people who would like to make human veganism the law of the land are also supportive of wolves, grizzly bears and mountain lions having free grazing range among people. They aren’t just wrong, they are evil.

  14. Retired Engineer says:

    Polar bear population has at least tripled in the past 40 years (8000 -> 25000). They may well outgrow their food supply. Which would make some of them endangered, if only by being consumed by other polar bears.

    What does this have to do with AGW?

  15. DesertYote says:

    April E. Coggins
    October 20, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    To the CBD and their comrades, wolves are just a political tool. If I explained the realities of the politics of wildlife management, blood would shoot out your eyes. The end result is that the only way that wolves would be allowed to reach “recovery” numbers in the US (ignoring the fact for a minute the the particular ssp in question is introduced, and that technically they are already at recover), would be if they are allowed to prey on sheep and cattle, without recourse from ranchers. I could go on and on about the evil of these so called environmentalist.

  16. David Hoyle says:

    ” ‘aren’t most polar bears Canadian?’

    Most but some can be found in Alaska…”

    They emigrated…!!!

  17. LightRain says:

    The trouble with a ruling of AGW putting Polar Bears on the road to extinction is the same tactic could be used to everything on the road to extinction, and we all know where that would take us. Nothing could be done without endangering something.

  18. Layne Blanchard says:

    DesertYote says:
    October 20, 2010 at 8:11 pm
    “The Center for Biological Diversity is a very dangerous Marxist organization that is in the business of using environmental law to destroy the US economy. ”

    I’m sure you’re correct. The reason for this listing is to shut down access to ANY territory where the bears may roam, under the guise of preservation of an endangered species. And the BHO administration will not flinch and immediately grant the endangered listing. This will be used to shut down oil and gas exploration.

    So to answer BenD:

    Ben D. says:
    October 20, 2010 at 8:48 pm
    “Judges with the exception of the supreme court can be fired. Remember to vote no to cap and tax and other dumb stuff. Presidential elections are also being held in 2 years, so we have two more years to judge our current president.”

    I don’t need even one more minute to decide.

  19. MikeA says:

    Irrelevant your honor, the Polar Bear treaty should adequately protect the animals under US law, and has been in force since 1974, See http://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/treaty.html#POLAR .

  20. Ryan Maue says:

    Updated the post to include some information about polar bear watching/excursions. Apparently they are all over the place in Port Churchill Manitoba. It’s also snowing like crazy up there !

  21. John Silver says:

    “The court is not accepting the Fish and Wildlife Service argument that extinction must be imminent before the bear is listed as endangered,” said Kassie Siegel, an attorney

    That’s the definition, [snip].

  22. Spector says:

    Of course this all goes back to the summer of 2007 when huge blocks of ice “the size of the State of California” were reported to be melting for the first time ever in recorded history and many people really thought that the ice-cap was going to be gone in just a few more years. Apparently, some still have not recovered from that expectation the way the ice has.

  23. simpleseekeraftertruth says:

    Same old story: mankind is inherently evil and salvation is the one true faith.

  24. oldseadog says:

    Lots of Polar Bears in Russia as well, not to mention Svalbard and Greenland.

  25. John Marshall says:

    If we have females with triplets then there must be lots of food available!
    Sorry these bears are a myth because they went extinct during the Medieval Warm Period, sorry the Roman Warm Period. Anyway they cannot be around now because of lack of ice.

  26. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Polar Bear Decoy Bait

    (American measurements)
    1 can (15 oz) Evaporated Milk (whole)
    1/2 can water
    1 stick (1/4 cup, 8 Tablespoons) butter
    Heat in saucepan until slightly boiling with butter melted, stirring occasionally

    Add in
    1 bag (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips [may use 3/4 pound semi-sweet chocolate bar(s), broken into pieces]
    Stir continuously until chocolate melts, scraping clumps off of sides and bottom, yielding smooth sauce

    Pour into:
    1 cup sugar (white granulated)
    2 c white wheat flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 t salt (NaCl)
    Stir together, does not have to be completely smooth

    Pour into greased and floured 9×12″ (inch) cake pan
    Place into preheated 350°F (Fahrenheit) oven
    Bake for 35 minutes.

    Note: I used unbleached flour. Whole wheat might also work.
    Result is a brownie/cake hybrid, less dense than a brownie with a brownie-like thin crust, can pass as cake. Good chocolate taste, more than Devil’s Food but without the full… whatever-it-is… of a normal chocolate bar or chocolate cake frosting. Tasty. But with hardly any indication of the incredible richness within (figure out the calorie and fat content of one piece, either 8 or 9 pieces per batch).

    Feed regularly to intended decoy. Resultant increase in mass with corresponding reduction in speed will enhance the effectiveness of the decoy. Decoy may or may not realize the effectiveness of the bait as the trap they entered is sprung and their status changes from intended to actual.

    (Disclaimer: Intended final result of using this bait is to get that charging polar bear to stop for a moment so you can get off a well-aimed shot and save your decoy buddy. You wouldn’t really run to safety by yourself without them, right?)

    And that was my Wednesday night scientific research, recipe whipped up on the fly from ingredients on hand based on rudimentary knowledge of them and their usage. Further research is indicated. What’d you do?

    Bonus questions: Who else recalls how, from the ancient age of the dinosaurs, such instructions would normally say “Sift together dry ingredients”? Why’d we stop sifting? Do today’s young people even know what a sifter is and what one does?
    ;-)

  27. Barry Woods says:

    Don’t worry..

    We have been here before:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/25/modeling-the-polar-bear-tipping-point/

    There is a computer model that expalins even while Polar bear populations are increasing… They will reach a tiping point and die..

    BBC: Polar bears face ‘tipping point’ due to climate change (May 2010)
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8700000/8700472.stm

    Based on the assumptions and behaviour programmed into it, how far they have to travel to find ice,etc..

    Of course the polar bears will just start knocking about, on the beaches where the seals are forced to go (IF the ice goes – it appears not) and get even fatter.

    Do you think scientists should be licensed before they are allowed to play with computers!

  28. Gareth Phillips says:

    DesertYote says:
    October 20, 2010 at 8:11 pm
    The Center for Biological Diversity is a very dangerous Marxist organization that is in the business of using environmental law to destroy the US economy.

    Quite right. It was founded by Karl Marx and has had such notables as Mao Tse Tung and Stalin as administrators. However over the years there has been much discussion as to whether it is really an extreme right wing organisation, as supported by Hitler and the then secretary Mussolini, or whether it is not really a political organisation at all, just a muddle headed environmental group that has got it’s facts wrong. What do you think? Maybe Senator McCarthy, were he still here, could have advised us?

  29. Golf Charley says:

    What about the disastrous affect on seal numbers, if their killers keep rising in numbers? Cull the bears!

  30. Jimbo says:

    From the article

    charles the moderator says:
    “So, who are you going to believe: a professional conservationist outfit that is actually in situ observing polar bear critters all over the place, or some bureaucrat bent on controlling your tailpipe and windpipe?”

    Someone else worth listening to is Dr. Mitchell Taylor has worked on polar bears for the past 30 years and has has published over 50 scientific papers. He was intereviewed in 2009 and here is a sample:

    [Q] “The Inuit have objected to southern governments designating “threatened” or “endangered” status for the polar bear. Why is that?”

    [A] “Because they are not in danger of extinction. According to a recent article, many Inuit feel that the current time is the “time with the most bears”. Many Inuit have also participated in scientific studies of polar bears over the years. So their experience is not consistent with the notion that polar bears are threatened or endangered or declining.”
    Source: Fcpp

    Who would you believe? The Inuit who know more about snow and polar bears than anyone else? Dr. Mitchell Taylor has worked on polar bears for the past 30? Or some bureaucrat? The choice is yours.

  31. Pascvaks says:

    English, especially American English, has got to be the worst language in the World. No matter how hard you try to say or write something as clearly and as unambiguously as possible, some damn lawyer (or judge) (or congressman) (or senator) (or president) jumps up and challanges what the meaning of ‘is’ is. There simply gets to be a point when the system, any system, breaks down because folks just don’t know how to say what they mean –even if they meant what they were saying.

  32. Viv Evans says:

    So there is a large increase in Polar Bear population numbers, and since there are a lot of females with triplets being observed, one can conclude that there must have been sufficient food resources around to support such a population.

    What usually happens then is that the population numbers crash due to depletion of food.

    So we can look forward to more wailings from the leftie ecofascists, because, see – the polar bears are dying!

    Two questions:
    *) If these bears did so well at a time of CO2 increase and small temperature rise, shouldn’t they do even better if it gets a bit warmer? After all, there would be more fish in slightly warmer Arctic seas, and thus more seals, no?

    *) But here’s the problem: if temperatures decrease – which is, after all, a possibility – and the polar bears die, should we do all we can to help temperatures go up a bit, to save the bears?

    I think we can be most certain of one thing, though: no matter what, the ecofascists will blame us all for daring to share the planet with those bears …

  33. Tom in Florida says:

    Pascvaks says:{October 21, 2010 at 5:08 am}
    “English, especially American English, has got to be the worst language in the World. No matter how hard you try to say or write something as clearly and as unambiguously as possible, some damn lawyer (or judge) (or congressman) (or senator) (or president) jumps up and challanges what the meaning of ‘is’ is. There simply gets to be a point when the system, any system, breaks down because folks just don’t know how to say what they mean –even if they meant what they were saying.”

    What do you mean by this?

  34. DesertYote says:

    Gareth Phillips
    October 21, 2010 at 3:29 am

    Your are what Marxists call an useful idiot. Why don’t you do a little research before you mock. The CBD is absolutely Marxist. Their activities over the past decades have clearly demonstrated their desire to eliminate all property rights and to end all development, driving mankind back to the stone age. This group has been involved with, and usually the driving force behind with every single campaign in the SW US, to use environmental law to help bring about the destruction of western civilization.

  35. Noel D says:

    I particulalry like this quote from the letter:

    “When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet”

    I contrast this with the beloved precautionary principle of the green movement which essentially says:

    “Do nothing, change nothing until you are absolutley sure it won’t have any adverse impacts on the environment”

    What’s good for the goose………

  36. Pull My Finger says:

    From the files of VERY bad ideas….
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101018/ap_on_re_us/us_valley_forge_deer_hunt

    “Friends of Animals” propose thinning Valley Forge (in the middle of Greater Philadelphia) deer population with Coyotes. Yes, importing coyotes into one of the largest metro areas, not to mention a public park, to thin deer. You would think sharpshooters would be a far more humane way to thin the herd than being ripped to pieces by coyotes. Maybe the should just import grizzly bears or maybe lions, they’d be much more efficient.

  37. johnmcguire says:

    April Coggins , I agree. I also agree with the DesertYote. Say, I am unable to remember the guys name who was the main person behind starting the center for biological diversity. I remember details like the fact he was a convicted wallmart shoplifter, and he was educated by the jesuits, and other dreary facts that would tarnish him in any sane persons eyes. How is it scum such as him are allowed to cause such trouble?

  38. WillR says:

    dwright says:
    October 20, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    aren’t most polar bears Canadian?

    Welll yessss — but many have applied for green cards so they can prey on innocents in the more populous regions of the USA. However, due to many unfortunate innocents where they ripped apart and ate the Citizenship examiners in their subsequent attempts to become full and productive citizens they are now on terrorist watch lists at the now heavily fortified Canadian-USA Border. (When the examiner raised his hand for the citizenship oath how were they to know that the Polar bear interpreted this as sign of surrender and that it meant “eat me” in Poley Bear sign language — which once again proves that communication is everything..) This has limited the issuance of green cards and citizenship papers. So, sadly most still hang out at the Garbage Dump in Churchill Manitoba. So while it is deploarble that Polar Bears are now reduced to being “garbage Pickers” and hence very low on the social totem pole, it has done wonders for tourism in Manitoba…

    http://www.polarbearalley.com/

    If you are a really irritating tourist they will let you “pet” the bears…

  39. Gary Turner says:

    Ben D. says:
    October 20, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Judges with the exception of the supreme court can be fired.

    Actually, they cannot be fired. Federal judges are appointed for life on good behavior. The consensus is that impeachment by the House and trial by the Senate is required. Some legal scholars suggest that trial and conviction by a regular court will do to remove a judge, based on English common law and pre-revolutionary colonial practice as applied to good behavior tenancy.

    Besides, who would fire them? They are appointed by the president on the advice and consent of the Senate. The prez could try, but the Senate would have to approve which would require a bill of impeachment from the House. So, we’re back to that.

  40. Gareth Phillips says:

    I am glad I am useful to someone! I’m not sure any Marxist theory I have studied fits with these guys.Nor totalitarian. I don’t think they are running detentions camps in Alaska or Siberia, and they are not shooting dissenters. Interestingly Marxists on the whole are just about as an un-environmental bunch as you will find. The Aral sea disaster is a good example of Marxist philosophy in sacrificing the environment to the pursuit of Marxist glory. What you are saying could apply equally to any totalitarian state, fascist regimes would be just as likely to enforce property grabs and tell you what to think. We in Europe are pretty convinced the Sarah Palin is barking mad, and the tea party movement has some worrying totalitarian tendencies. But that does not make them fascists, or Marxists, just right wing. And because they are right wing, it does not make them any more environmental than Christian Democrats, or Labour, or the Tories.
    Best not to use political theory to explain why you disagree with an environmental group, don’t confuse the two, it’s a complex subject and to use such comparisons just breeds disregard for this excellent site, which I wish more real politicians would read.

  41. Pascvaks says:

    Tom in Florida says:
    October 21, 2010 at 6:11 am
    Pascvaks says:{October 21, 2010 at 5:08 am}
    “English, especially American English, has got to be the worst language in the World….”
    What do you mean by this?
    ______________________________
    Polar Bears! Ahhhhhh…..? Judges! Ahhhhhh…..? The meaning of “is”! Ahhhhh…..? I forgot.

  42. Gerald Machnee says:

    Following from a friend who does tours in Churchill in response to my question how the bears are doing this year,
    “Hi Gerald,

    Yup, they are fat and lazy. Numbers are growing daily. “

  43. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    I once took a college class on the techniques used in propaganda films, and studied films generated during WWII by both the Germans and the USA (interestingly, the US film was produced by Disney & had extensive animation!)

    There is a great similarity between those films and this CAGW junk, (ex) stirring the masses to action with emotional heart-tugs balanced with fear (the classics being “Triumph of the Will” by Riefenstahl and “The Battleship Potemkin” by Eisenstein).

    The CAGW propagandists use many of the same tools used by these filmmakers….helpless & lovable victims, being threatened/harmed by some evil, ugly entity. The famed “polar bears in crisis” campaign have had a huge impact on public opinion. Unfortunately, there is no fact to it.

    I’m glad to see that real science is getting more and more attention, deflating this stuff. However, the CAGW propagandists are tenacious, watch for more of this junk in the future. CTM, thanks for posting!

  44. Will Crump says:

    Charles the moderator:

    Why did you not include the following paragraph from the same piece explaining why the observations noted above were happening?

    “These oddities in polar bear behavior may be warnings of trends in global warming. Perhaps early ice melt in the bay are driving bears on land earlier in the spring up north so that more arrive in Churchill in early summer. As for the mothers with more cubs, increased snowfall may allow for longer and better denning conditions. At first thought, increased snowfall would seem to signal colder conditions but it actually could oppose such a theory. More moisture in the air stemming from open water on the Hudson Bay and warmer, moist air coming to the region translates to more snow. This is great for denning though the new arrivals will need long-lasting solid ice later on to fill their seal quota. Only time will tell.”

    The small number of bears and anecdotal information in this piece do not constitute a scientific study of the polar bear status. The piece you quoted from appears to be an infomercial put out by a group that makes money from polar bear tours rather than a conservationist research piece on polar bear status. http://www.nathab.com/polar-bear-tours

    Retired Engineer:

    Why are you advocating a return to the bad old days of unrestricted hunting that nearly wiped out the bears? How do you think their numbers got down to 8,000 and why has it taken this long for their numbers to get back up to 20,000 to 25,000? Even Russia put in hunting restrictions in 1956. Norway passed a series of increasingly strict regulations from 1965 to 1973, and has completely banned hunting since then. The Soviet Union banned all hunting in 1956, but has allowed some limited exceptions. Canada began imposing hunting quotas in 1968. The U.S. began regulating in 1971 and adopted the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972 (that would be the Nixon administration).

    Jimbo:

    Perhaps we should trust what the scientist says rather than just looking at what he says the Inuit say. The Inuit he is describing may be more concerned about the immediacy of a quick buck (or loon) and economics of harvesting and trophy hunting than they are about long-term preservation of bear populations. Maybe the Inuit hunters need protection from the melting ice, too. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/03/last-of-the-arctic-hunters Dr. Mitchell Taylor’s opinion of the impact of arctic warming on the bears is not necessarily the same as the Inuit or as simplistic as the quotes you have cited.

    Dr. Mitchell Taylor (who is acknowledge to be an expert on the bears even by those who disagree with his position on the causes of climate change in the Arctic) has noted that climate change exists and is impacting some of the bear populations:

    “Polar bears, as a species, do not appear to be threatened or in decline based on the data that I’ve seen at the present time, although some populations do seem to be experiencing deleterious effects from climate change.” http://www.fcpp.org/publication.php/2571

    Per Dr. Mitchell Taylor:

    “The harvest rates are usually intended to keep the population at current levels so even a sustainable harvest would have a stabilizing effect on a population. If you are asking if I think that some populations are declining because of over harvest, I think that probably Kane Basin numbers are stable even though it is over-hunted. Kane Basin seems to be a sink for polar bears right now. The harvest in western Hudson Bay has recently been reduced and the population is thought to be stable or increasing slowly. I’m not exactly sure what’s happening with harvests in the Southern Beaufort Sea, but this population appears to have been badly stressed by the recent arctic warming. The most recent data for the other populations indicates they are sustaining current harvest levels except for Baffin Bay. In Baffin Bay the research data suggests a significant decline in population numbers, but local hunters report that numbers are stable or even increased.”

    There are at least 19 distinct populations of polar bears. Dr. Mitchell Taylor has indicated that four of the groups are being adversely impacted by warming:

    “The arctic climate has warmed for the last ten years and that has caused a reduction in sea ice. In fact, the two are related. The reduction in sea ice has actually caused the arctic to warm. That has caused difficulties for at least two populations, and we know of nutritional effects in two others. Other populations don’t appear to be affected or at least are not as affected. They are still abundant and productive. So the effect has been different among the world’s 19 populations.”
    http://www.fcpp.org/publication.php/2571

    As for the status of the 19 populations as of March 2010, the chart in this link indicates that 6 populations of polar bears have a very high possibility of decline (note- this is not an extinction prediction) See chart at: http://pbsg.npolar.no/en/status/status-table.html#bottom

    For a science study of the bears in the Churchill area:

    Predicting survival, reproduction and abundance of polar bears under climate change by Péter K. Molnára, Andrew E. Derocherb (a former student of Mitchell Taylor), Gregory W. Thiemannc, and Mark A. Lewisa

    which is discussed in this article (note: this article should not be cited as proof that all polar bears are in decline, only the bears in western Hudson Bay).

    http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2293

    “The basic facts are as follows: The region’s [western Hudson Bay] polar bears have been forced to spend an extra week per decade onshore; the bears have been losing, on average, more than 20 pounds per decade; the body mass of the bears has been steadily declining; females have lost 10 percent of their body length; and the population has dropped from 1,200 to 900 in three decades, with much of the decline coming in the last 10 years.

    Looking at projected sea ice declines, Derocher and his colleagues estimated in a recent paper in Biological Conservation that western Hudson Bay’s polar bear population could well die out in 25 to 30 years. Indeed, in an interview with Yale Environment 360 senior editor Fen Montaigne, Derocher said that the population — one of 19 in the Arctic — could be gone within a decade. All it would take is several straight years of low sea ice conditions — such as the current year — which could force the bears onshore for more than five months a year, leading to a sharp decline in the bears’ physical condition and the inability of females to gestate cubs. “One of the things we found was that the changes in this population could happen very dramatically,” says Derocher. “And a lot of the change could come within a single year if you just ended up with an earlier melt of sea ice.”

    Later in this article:

    “So the real rub here is that there’s not much in the way of terrestrial resources for these bears to pull on during the ice-free period — there’s a few berries and a bit of grass, but that’s certainly not enough to sustain a polar bear population. So the challenge is, you push them, there’s nothing on shore, they run out of energy, and then the real catastrophe is that you’ll also see things we’re beginning to see on land like increased cases of infanticide and cannibalism. The number of observed cannibalism events in the last couple of years in this population has just been skyrocketing. That’s what happens when you get desperate animals trying to survive — anything becomes a viable option and cannibalism is one that we’ve seen increasing dramatically.”

    While the article is presenting a worst case scenario, it is not presenting a scenario that has no chance of happening. Hopefully the above article will prove to be overly pessimistic, and the sea ice in the Hudson Bay will recover, but the rapid melt of the bay in 2010 does not provide any indication that Hudson Bay ice conditions have improved.

    There is also as earlier study of the Hudson Bay bears provided the following:

    “Some of the most pronounced responses to climatic warming are expected to occur in polar marine regions, where temperature increases have been the greatest, and sea ice provides a sensitive mechanism by which climatic conditions affect ice dwelling species. Population level effects of climatic change, however, remain difficult to quantify. We analyzed data for polar bears captured from 1984–2004 along the western coast of Hudson Bay, and in the community of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. The size of the Western Hudson Bay polar bear population declined from 1194 (95% CI = 1020, 1368) in 1987, to 935 (95% CI = 794, 1076) in 2004. Total apparent survival of prime-adult polar bears (age 5–19 yr) was stable over the course of the study for both females (0.93; 95% CI = 0.91, 0.94) and males (0.90; 95% CI = 0.88, 0.91). Survival of juvenile, sub adult, and senescent-adult polar bears was correlated with spring sea ice breakup date, which was variable among years and occurred approximately 3 weeks earlier in 2004 than at the beginning of the study in 1984. We propose that this correlation provides evidence for a causal association between earlier sea ice breakup (due to climatic warming) and decreased polar bear survival. It may also explain why Churchill, like other communities along the western coast of Hudson Bay, has experienced an increase in the number of human–polar bear interactions in recent years. Earlier sea ice breakup may have resulted in a larger number of nutritionally-stressed polar bears, which are encroaching on human habitations in search of supplemental food. Because western Hudson Bay is near the southern limit of the polar bear’s range, our findings may foreshadow how more northerly polar bear populations will respond to the continued warming that is projected for many parts of the Arctic.”

    Regehr, E.V., Lunn, N.J., Amstrup, S.C., and I. Stirling. 2007. Effects of earlier sea ice breakup on survival and population size of polar bears in western Hudson Bay. Journal of Wildlife Management. 71(8):2673-2683.

    Regehr, E. V., N. J. Lunn, S. C. Amstrup, and I. Stirling. 2007. Supplemental materials for the analysis of capture-recapture data for polar bears in western Hudson Bay, Canada, 1984-2004. U. S. Geological Survey Data Series 304. 13 p.

    While some polar bear populations may be currently stable, the bear populations in western and southern Hudson Bay, the Kane Basin, Southern Beaufort Sea, and Baffin Bay appear to be under stress and need monitoring and protection. There appears to be a general agreement among the various governments and experts that some level of protection is needed for Polar bears. With a current population estimate of 20,000 to 25,000, it does not appear that it would take much in terms of overhunting or additional environmental stress to put the bears out of business. Waiting until the stark projections of the study below become a reality before providing additional protections from over-harvesting or economic development does not appear to be a prudent Likewise, using the plight of the bears to advance a political agenda that only incidentally provides protections to the bears should be rejected.

    Amstrup, Steven C.; Marcot, Bruce G.; Douglas, David C. (2007) (PDF). Forecasting the Range-wide Status of Polar Bears at Selected Times in the 21st Century. Reston, Virginia: U.S. Geological Survey. http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/special/polar_bears/docs/USGS_PolarBear_Amstrup_Forecast_lowres.pdf.

    Charles the moderator:

    So who are we to believe, respected scientists with peer reviewed research or Inuit hunters with an economic agenda and some limited observations by a tour guide masquerading as a conservationist?

  45. Mick J says:

    pat says:
    October 20, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Louise has a new angle today:
    Also has this story at this address.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/8078306/Barack-Obama-to-review-polar-bears.html

    I have twice posted the Churchill article with link and it is being removed.
    Can’t have those pesky facts disturbing a crap story.

    Mick.

  46. Will Crump says:

    p.s.

    We definitely should not believe anyone that is trying to advance a political agenda, be they promoting AGW or denying the possibility of AGW.

  47. vigilantfish says:

    Will Crump:

    How come you did not address the Polar Bear Decoy Bait issue? At least that is not full of ‘could’, ‘may’ and ‘may be’ statements.

    The problem I have with the studies you cite is that populations have natural cycles and periodicities, the importance of which is becoming increasingly recognized, and which the reappearance of the Pacific salmon, which were on the verge of being declared endangered species earlier this year, clearly demonstrates.

    Also, how long have polar bear body masses been carefully studied so that these trends in changing size can be contextualized. How did polar bears cope with melting ice conditions in the 1920s and 1930s when polar explorers were predicting open seas warming seas and the disappearance of summer ice in the high Arctic?

    (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/03/16/you-ask-i-provide-november-2nd-1922-arctic-ocean-getting-warm-seals-vanish-and-icebergs-melt/)?

    How did polar bears cope during the Medieval Warm Period?

    I can see concern for polar bears stemming from other human intrusions into polar bear territory, but the effects of a constantly changing climate which thus far have imposed no abnormal conditions (as in, never before seen in history) do not rate.

    _____________

    kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    October 21, 2010 at 2:19 am

    Polar Bear Decoy Bait

    ————

    Kadaka:

    That recipe sounds delicious but not what I should have, although doubtless I’d already make a good decoy. I still sift dry ingredients when I remember or have time – I like baking cakes from scratch, and have enough birthdays in the family to keep in practice. Do you think milk-chocolate chips could be substituted?

  48. johnmcguire says:

    Will Crump , I have read some of the material referenced and wonder at the veracity of much of the information. I have noted that true conservationists carefully avoid any appearance of bias and would backtrack extensively if they thought their statements were in error let alone untruthfull. Be the subject endangered species, global warming, anti trapping or antihunting, those advocating for the first two and against the second two have repeatedly shown their willingness to even lie about the facts in order to promote their agenda. Based on these observations I am no longer willing to believe anything that is said by them. I dont know you or your particular stance on these issues and I would ask that you not consider this a personal attack as it is not intended as such. This is an explanation of how I have come my opinion and I seem to share this attitude with the average person.

  49. DesertYote says:

    Gareth Phillips
    October 21, 2010 at 9:29 am

    I am not call the CBD Marxist because they are enviro-wackos. I am calling them Marxist because they are Marxist, that is the founders are real honest to goodness Marxists. They literally want the destruction of property rights and capitalism. Why don’t you do some research or are you dense? They don’t care about environmental issues unless they can use it to push a Marxist agenda. This organization started in my State. I became aware of them when I got involved with wolf recovery 15 years ago. I have been keeping tabs on them every since.

  50. Will Crump says:

    Mick J.

    Is it being removed because it is a form of advertising?

    Find an science article that shows polar bear increases for a particular area like the Davis Strait, where very little hunting is occurring. Try these and see if they go through.

    http://www.propertyrightsresearch.org/2007/articles01/davis.htm

    http://www.nnsl.com/northern-news-services/stories/papers/sep17_07bear.html

    The above article is particularly interesting as it projects nubers would rise even further if hunting was restricted.

    http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/975_davis_strait_bear_numbers_healthy_but_could_decline/

  51. Will Crump says:

    vigilantfish:

    I enjoyed your post.

    Sorry for the use of ‘could’, ‘may’ and ‘may be’ statements, I want the audience to reach their own conclusion rather than preach to them. Use of softer language gets more people to look at what you post.

    johnmaguire:

    I appreciate you looking at the stuff, everyone should always test the source material for reliability and make your own judgement as to reliability. I appreciate your comments. My politics- anarchist, I do not trust anyone, hence the conditional language.

    vigilantifish:

    I do not have enough data or research information to directly address your MWP question. The usual response I have seen to the MWP question is one of rate of change. Because the rate of the MWP was more gradual than what we are seeing currently the bears may have had more time to adapt, but all of this is a lot of guess work as there does not appear to be a lot of data on the conditions in the arctic during this period of time. Also, I doubt the hunters of the MWP era had the ability to harvest as many bears as we can today. It is possible that only a small population survived the MWP and that they were able to repopulate during the more favorable conditions of the LIA, but I have seen no data on this. It is possible that the MWP was not as severe in the arctic as currrent conditions – just don’t know.

    I have not seen any studies that discuss the population of polar bears during the MWP or the affect on arctic ice in the polar bear habitat during the MWP. Please post what you have.

    Your question is a good one, but there does not appear to be much data with which to draw any conclusions or provide any answers. You need not limit the time period for analyzing survival as the bears have been around for about 200,000 years, so the question is really how did they make it this far through all the natural climate changes. Sad to think that humans could eliminate them through mis-management like we were doing with unregulated hunting when the numbers dropped below 10,000.

    The point I was making is that there are clearly populations of bears that are being negatively affected by warming (please note that I am not making any statement as to the cause of the warming, only that it exists and should not be ignored in making decisions on bear management) and over-harvesting and that these populations deserve more protection. Before we go crazy and try to use the decline in bears as a reason to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we should work on the more direct impact we have on the bears from harvesting and other negative changes to their environment.

    My purpose was to counter the impression that a single set of observations by a travel guide in Churchill was proof that all is well with the bears, which seemed pretty silly. Some of the commentators appeared to seize on this advertisement as proof of something, which was not supportable and I sought to provide a source of data to refute this.

    There is a qualitative difference between an extinction caused by human influences and one caused by non-human causes. While it is difficult to provide a proof that CO2 emissions are harming the bear populations, it is easy to see the affects of harvesting. Lets work on limiting harvesting to reasonable levels depending on environmental conditions as the first step to helping the bears instead of denying that there is a problem in some of the bear populations.

    Thank you for reading the post.

  52. Will Crump says:

    vigilantfish:

    I liked the recipe.

    I have noted that a number of people use “natural variability” as a statement to prove that humans are having no influence on climate or to say that the influence is so small that we should just ignore it. I do not find these statements very convincing or comforting. There is no question that climate varies over time, but what does this prove?

    The question is how human activities are affecting these processes.

    I do not find it credible that after all the changes in land use, building artificial lakes, pumping out groundwater, agricultural practices, fishing practices, particularly in the ocean, building of cities, paving of roads, the increase in human population over 6 billion and the changes we have made and continue to make to ocean and atmosphere chemistry that there is no negative consequence to these changes. We have clearly affected the environment and climate in the past (ex. the dust bowl) and have driven species to extinction.

    I am also wary of the so called “solutions” being offered up by groups as their solutions appear to fit the particular political or economic agenda of the group more than they accomplish any real change.

    For now, I will satisfy myself with debunking the extreme claims made on both sides of this discussion and providing links for people to information to possibly make a more informed decision, although, it appears that people (me included) are only interested in information that fits their pre-conceived view and do not challenge items that fit that view with the same rigor as information that is contrary to their view.

    The “polar bear” issue appears to be sufficiently small that I can understand it and is within our grasp to do something about by regulating harvesting (I do not see a need to stop all harvesting at this time) with minimal disruption to the world economy so I tend to get over involved in these discussions.

    Please send any info you have on the MWP and its impact on the polar bears and I will digest and address it.

  53. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From vigilantfish on October 21, 2010 at 2:24 pm:

    Do you think milk-chocolate chips could be substituted?

    “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I had run out of milk chocolate in bar form and didn’t feel like noshing on plain semi-sweet chips, which was the remaining available chocolate.

    Full-sweet milk chocolate could be used, as well as unsweetened chocolate. Despite the cup of sugar, the sweetness isn’t that noticeable, which will change with a different sweetness of chocolate. Fresh and barely cooled, the taste is almost plain.

    Update to Polar Bear Decoy Bait research: Refrigeration yields a moister denser consistency, with more noticeable sweetness. It is also apparently addictive. Further research is indicated, again.

  54. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Ben D.

    You are wrong. All federal judges have a lifetime tenure, unless they are impeached.

  55. vigilantfish says:

    Will Crump says:
    October 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    I regret that I have no data on polar bears during the Medieval Warm Period. The point I was trying to make is one that is frequently made here: we don’t have a long enough record of weather phenomena using measurement devices, nor of the effects of natural climate and other change to be able to definitively argue that current weather anomalies are in any way unusual. One of the lessons learned by Charles Darwin in his voyage of exploration was that Charles Lyell’s theory of geological change, uniformitarianism, did not necessarily mean that geological change was gradual and barely noticeable. This was the assumption made by his contemporaries who were arguing that the dramatic features of the earth had been shaped by a much more violent and catastrophic past (in keeping with a distorted version of Biblical geological time). When Charles Darwin experienced the 1835 earthquake near Concepcion, Chile, he witnessed enormous geological shifts, with up to 11 ft of uplift in places. The evidence from Europe for the end of the Medieval Warm Period was that the temperature drop was sharp and sudden, not a gradual change. Those who argue that the polar bears are endangered by climate change are highlighting the supposedly unprecedented rate of change supposedly caused by CO2. There simply is not a long enough record, since most temperature series go back only into the early 1800s (1830s in Canada), to justify these claims. Human beings have also already saved a number of species of plants and animals from extinction, as has been done by centres such as Kew Gardens in London with several naturally isolated island plants, which have been subsequently reintroduced into the wild, and no doubt could do the same with polar bears. It is quite dubious that so-called anthropogenic climate change will precipitate such a need, as natural temperature fluctuations due to oscillations in oceanic currents and other systems will probably soon reverse recent trends of the past few decades.

    Speaking of politicizing things, I was a student of Ian Hacking’s for one wonderful year (he’s an eminent philosopher of science). He one told the tale of how he was visiting Michel Foucault in the South of France, and learned that Foucault was disturbed by a proposed development that would destroy his view. The pair got drunk one night and went out and planted Foucault’s cactus collection in the undeveloped terrain below Foucault’s garden – and Foucault successfully later argued with authorities that development would imperil the very rare cactus varieties found in those lands.

    You walk a precarious tightrope in trying to declare that you have somehow, by ‘debunking’ the ‘extreme’ claims of both sides, eliminated a political stance in the sources you seek to defend. Politics comes in many different varieties.

  56. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Rattus Norvegicus said on October 21, 2010 at 7:55 pm:

    Ben D.

    You are wrong. All federal judges have a lifetime tenure, unless they are impeached.

    Gary Turner agrees, since he said that back here.

    Thank you for reading the comments before replying.

    Would you like to try some homemade baked goods?

  57. April E. Coggins says:

    “How is it scum such as him are allowed to cause such trouble?”

    Because this is America. Freedom is messy. In America, we allow wrong, evil people to present their case. In America, we hope that citizens are open minded enough to make the right decision. We depend on the intelligence of fellow Americans to vote to protect our individual freedoms. That doesn’t always work, but usually Americans are level headed.

  58. Gareth Phillips says:

    Will Crump says:
    October 21, 2010 at 12:54 pm
    p.s.

    We definitely should not believe anyone that is trying to advance a political agenda, be they promoting AGW or denying the possibility of AGW.

    I agree Will, it’s desperately sad when posters use this excellent site to advance their hard right wing agendas (or occasionally left) . This is probably the most active independent scientific website and is wonderfully influential. There are many people who would like to see the back of it. One way of doing that is to use it to publish obsessive political ideas, and to insult those who point our that our cause is not based in political beliefs, right or left, but on the evidence published by determined researchers who will not be browbeaten. Lets keep it like that and keep the those who would undermine our cause for their own reasons at arms length.
    Science, like religion is an evil mix in politics. we have seen the results of religion and politics in Iran, lets be on our guard to make sure it does not happen with science and politics.

  59. David A. Evans says:

    10 unarmed conservationists versus 1 unarmed polar bear. I know where my money is.
    Now, give me the chance to place the bet someone.

    DaveE.

  60. Gareth Phillips says:

    DesertYote says:
    October 21, 2010 at 2:30 pm
    Gareth Phillips
    October 21, 2010 at 9:29 am

    I am not call the CBD Marxist because they are enviro-wackos. I am calling them Marxist because they are Marxist, that is the founders are real honest to goodness Marxists. They literally want the destruction of property rights and capitalism. Why don’t you do some research or are you dense? They don’t care about environmental issues unless they can use it to push a Marxist agenda. This organization started in my State. I became aware of them when I got involved with wolf recovery 15 years ago. I have been keeping tabs on them every since.

    Apologies for upsetting you Mr.Yote, but I have copied the CPD history below, but there is no mention of your state Marxist group or the events you you have related. Possibly seeing as you have been closely monitoring this dangerous revolutionary group with it’s roots in your state ( I assume this is the USA?) perhaps you can point me to independent or reliable evidence of the Marxist agenda of this group? As a student in my younger days of political thought I must confess I had entirely overlooked this particular revolutionary group. If you have any evidence of dangerous activities you may also wish to update your local policeman to these events. While most Marxists in the west own more to Dave Spart than to Shining path, you can never be too careful.
    I suspect personally that the global warming industry is a capitalist scam, but with China being the most elegant expression of a Capitalist country in existence, but claiming to be Marxist/Maoist it’s all very confusing once politics is thrown into this witches brew.
    P.S. I’ve always found it a strange terms to call the hunting of Polar bears, wild cats and and other carnivores “a harvest” I’d always assumed we harvest food, or maybe this is another example of English being a sneaky tongue!
    best wishes, G.

    The Earth’s biological resources are vital to humanity’s economic and social development. As a result, there is a growing recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to present and future generations. At the same time, the threat to species and ecosystems has never been so great as it is today. Species extinction caused by human activities continues at an alarming rate.
    In response, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) convened the Ad Hoc Working Group of Experts on Biological Diversity in November 1988 to explore the need for an. international convention on biological diversity. Soon after, in May 1989, it established the Ad Hoc Working Group of Technical and Legal Experts to prepare an international legal instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The experts were to take into account “the need to share costs and benefits between developed and developing countries” as well as “ways and means to support innovation by local people”.
    By February 1991, the Ad Hoc Working Group had become known as the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee. Its work culminated on 22 May 1992 with the Nairobi Conference for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
    The Convention was opened for signature on 5 June 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio “Earth Summit”). It remained open for signature until 4 June 1993, by which time it had received 168 signatures. The Convention entered into force on 29 December 1993, which was 90 days after the 30th ratification. The first session of the Conference of the Parties was scheduled for 28 November – 9 December 1994 in the Bahamas.
    The Convention on Biological Diversity was inspired by the world community’s growing commitment to sustainable development. It represents a dramatic step forward in the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

  61. DesertYote says:

    Gareth Phillips
    October 22, 2010 at 12:42 am

    Boy you are thick. Its their actions that speak louder then their propaganda. I think you’ve drunk a bit to much of the kool-aid :( Don’t you get it? Many environmental activists are Marxists. Environmentalism is just a propaganda ploy. I realize, as a European, you are at a bit of a disadvantage because of the total saturation of your culture with anti-American and anti-capitalist propaganda ( I lived in Germany a few years in my youth). And that has molded you guys into developing a distorting world view that prevents you from seeing propaganda for what it is. Your argument that environmentalists can’t be Marxist because Marxism is bad for the environment is just plain silly.

    And no, I am not upset. I deal with blind ignorance every day. I am use to it.

  62. Will Crump says:

    vigilantfish says:
    October 21, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    My limited purpose in posting to this thread was to cast doubt on the validity of the impression left by the original post that a conservationist had proved that polar bears in the Hudson Bay area were expanding. This initially struck me as odd since this population referred to in the article is known to be under stress from warming and harvesting.

    Upon checking the source being quoted above, it appeared that the source was more in the nature of an advertisement by a tour group than a peer reviewed research paper evaluating the health of the polar bears. That so much reliance was being placed on such a weak source made me suspect that this post was being used to advance a political agenda rather than to provide an accurate assessment of the status of the bears. The impression that a particular political agenda was being advanced by this post was reinforced by the inclusion of a reference to a legal dispute about the status of the bears under the endangered species act.

    Upon checking a number of research papers it became clear that the actual picture of polar bear health is more complex than the picture portrayed in the original post, with some populations being stable or expanding and others in decline or showing indications that they are likely to decline. The Hudson Bay group of bears being referred to in the travel group’s article was noted as being under stress. A number of references were provided which indicated that some polar bear populations were doing well and other populations were showing signs of stress, or were declining, or considered likely to decline.

    Direct quotes were provided from Dr. Mitchell Taylor, a polar bear researcher who does not support the view the human activities are causing the arctic warming, that show that current conditions and harvesting levels are having a negative impact on some of the bear populations.

    I am not suggesting that anything I have posted resolves the issues being raised in the legal dispute, which appears to be more about the political agendas of the different groups involved in the dispute than it does about the future health of the polar bears. Rather, I am providing information that casts doubt on the reliability of the impression left by the original post that polar bears are not being affected by warming in the Hudson Bay area.

    To your most recent points:

    I do not follow why a lack of data on the MWP justifies any conclusions with respect to the current or future health of the bears. The experience of the near extinction of the polar bears in the first half of the 20th century due to the use of technically advanced hunting methods is warning enough that the bears need some form of protection. This does not mean that a total ban on harvesting is needed, only that it be done in a manner that does not cause individual bear populations to decline.

    I am at a loss as to why you think that a sudden temperature drop at the end of the MWP in Europe has any meaning to the management of polar bears in the arctic today.

    Likewise, the Darwin reference appears to have little relevance to polar bears. What do you think Darwin’s impression would be of the current status of the species he first encountered on the Galapagos islands if could be there today?

    Much of your post appears to be based on a rather vague and not well documented or referenced belief that conditions in the arctic for the bears will improve in the future. I hope they do improve, but could you provide a reference to a peer reviewed research paper that supports this view and makes a specific projection with respect to a recovery of the ice so we can test this hypothesis against future observations?

    I have the read the recent post about the Russian book which was posted under the title “Ice Rebound Predicted”. I would have preferred the post use the actual title of the book “Climate Change in the Eurasian Arctic Shelf Seas” as the headline in the post does not accurately convey the coverage or purpose of the book. The original post about the book does not appear to be an accurate portrayal of its contents. While the book offers important survey information concerning the Euarasian shelf, the book does not establish a prediction with any level of confidence that an Arctic wide recovery of the ice is about to occur. Additionally, there appears to be some weaknesses in attempting to rely on this book as support for saying that a rebound of all of the ice in the arctic will occur in the next few years. These weaknesses are detailed in the quote below.

    With respect to the current state of the arctic ice and the possibility of future changes to that state, please read the following post:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/21/summer-2010-in-the-arctic-and-other-sea-ice-topics/

    which makes the following observations with respect to the book “Climate Change in the Eurasian Arctic Shelf Seas”

    “For example, there was post earlier this week (October 16) [ http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/16/arctic-ice-rebound%c2%a0predicted/ ] about a recent book on longer-term sea ice changes in the 20th century. I read through this book earlier this year, so I’m familiar with it. As the title (“Climate Change in the Eurasian Arctic Shelf Seas”) states, the book analyzes data only the Russian shelf regions of the Arctic – it doesn’t include the central Arctic or U.S./Canadian Arctic, where a significant portion of the decline has occurred over the past decades. Their conclusions are drawn from data through only 2003, so with the recent low years since then, the observed patterns of variability may no longer hold. (There is a final section in the book on 2003-2008 sea ice conditions, but these data are discussed independently and are not incorporated to update their analyses earlier in the book.)

    The book only superficially examines ice thickness changes (again only in the Russian shelf regions) and does not examine the recent thickness data from ICESat or the ice age fields. Finally, as it states in conclusion #2: “These cyclic oscillations of sea ice extent were superimposed on the background consisting of a negative long-term linear trend that characterizes gradual decrease of sea ice extent during the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century.” In other words, even in the Russian data, there is a decline. The authors suggest this decline could be indicative of a longer cycle, but admit that such a conclusion can only be “conjectured”.

    So while the book provides useful data (Russian information is often difficult to obtain), their conclusions about reasons for the changes in overall Arctic sea ice and the state of sea ice in the coming decades are more limited than the book seems to suggest. Andy Mahoney (a former colleague of mine at NSIDC) and others also analyzed the Russian data in a paper published in 2008 (Mahoney et al., 2008 – a brief summary is here).”

    If you believe that the future of the bears is secure because:

    “Human beings have also already saved a number of species of plants and animals from extinction, as has been done by centres such as Kew Gardens in London with several naturally isolated island plants, which have been subsequently reintroduced into the wild, and no doubt could do the same with polar bears.”

    Then no amount of information on the current status of the bears or the ice matters to you. I would appreciate, however, if you could provide a single example of where Kew Gardens has saved a species from extinction where the extinction was not directly caused by humans or by changes to the environment and habitat associated with human actions as I was not able to find any such examples.

  63. Grumpy Old Man says:

    Why are we worried about these mamalian sharks? If they go extinct then we’ll just have to hunt more seals and feed them into our food chain (pun intended). Polar bears are merely a sub species of the Brown bear which has adapted to Arctic conditions. No particular diversity will be lost if they dissappear. If they survive then so be it; if they don’t then so be it. Most of the species that mother earth has produced are now extinct; is the polar bear another candidate? Would we miss them? The seals wouldn’t.

  64. DesertYote says:

    Will Crump
    October 22, 2010 at 9:17 am

    The paper you refer to regarding the Hudson Bay polar bear populations is deliberately misleading. The actual numbers have not decreased, it is models that show a problem, not the real data. The indicators that they have seen that they have used to indicate population stress do not. The paper also very carefully completely ignores the know history of the population. The main reason for the bears to be in the area year round, is human trash. So the only real stress on the bears is people doing a better job of managing their garbage.

    Environmentalist have been doing agenda driven pseudo-science a lot longer the climate activists. I think they are much better at it. Also, their schooling does a much better job of insuring that only those with the correct viewpoint can graduate and find jobs, so they don’t have to worry so much about contra-narrative studies.

  65. BS Footprint says:

    pat says:
    October 20, 2010 at 8:47 pm
    Louise has a new angle today:

    20 Oct: UK Telegraph: Louise Gray: World must start putting a value on
    nature
    Natural goods and services, such as the pollination provided by bees or
    filtration of water by wetlands, should be included in a nation’s economic
    value in the same way as GDP, according to a major new United Nations
    report.

    Insanity takes many forms.

  66. Will Crump says:

    Desert Yote:

    I have noticed that there have been people and groups that attempt to attack this research, but I have not find a refutation of it by a climate scientists in a peer reviewed paper.

    Can you help me by providing such a link?

    In the meantime, I will keep looking on my own.

  67. Will Crump says:

    Desert Yote:

    I have read the analysis by the business and economic group headed by Scott Armstrong is this what you are referring to?

    These people are not polar bear researchers.

  68. Will Crump says:

    There is a rebuttal to the Armstrong paper at:

    http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1594648.1594654

    Rebuttal of “Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public-Policy Forecasting Audit”

    Steven C. Amstrup US Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, Alaska 99508
    Hal Caswell Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543
    Eric DeWeaver Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Department, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742
    Ian Stirling Wildlife Research Division, Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, Edmonton, Alberta T6H 3S5, Canada
    David C. Douglas US Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, Juneau, Alaska 99801
    Bruce G. Marcot USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, Oregon 97205
    Christine M. Hunter Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775

    Abstract:

    “Observed declines in the Arctic sea ice have resulted in a variety of negative effects on polar bears (Ursus maritimus). Projections for additional future declines in sea ice resulted in a proposal to list polar bears as a threatened species under the United States Endangered Species Act. To provide information for the Department of the Interior’s listing-decision process, the US Geological Survey (USGS) produced a series of nine research reports evaluating the present and future status of polar bears throughout their range. In response, Armstrong et al. [Armstrong, J. S., K. C. Green, W. Soon. 2008. Polar bear population forecasts: A public-policy forecasting audit. Interfaces38(5) 382--405], which we will refer to as AGS, performed an audit of two of these nine reports. AGS claimed that the general circulation models upon which the USGS reports relied were not valid forecasting tools, that USGS researchers were not objective or lacked independence from policy decisions, that they did not utilize all available information in constructing their forecasts, and that they violated numerous principles of forecasting espoused by AGS. AGS (p. 382) concluded that the two USGS reports were “unscientific and inconsequential to decision makers.” We evaluate the AGS audit and show how AGS are mistaken or misleading on every claim. We provide evidence that general circulation models are useful in forecasting future climate conditions and that corporate and government leaders are relying on these models to do so. We clarify the strict independence of the USGS from the listing decision. We show that the allegations of failure to follow the principles of forecasting espoused by AGS are either incorrect or are based on misconceptions about the Arctic environment, polar bear biology, or statistical and mathematical methods. We conclude by showing that the AGS principles of forecasting are too ambiguous and subjective to be used as a reliable basis for auditing scientific investigations. In summary, we show that the AGS audit offers no valid criticism of the USGS conclusion that global warming poses a serious threat to the future welfare of polar bears and that it only serves to distract from reasoned public-policy debate.”

  69. Gareth Phillips says:

    DesertYote says:
    October 22, 2010 at 7:46 am
    Gareth Phillips
    October 22, 2010 at 12:42 am

    Boy you are thick. Its their actions that speak louder then their propaganda. I think you’ve drunk a bit to much of the kool-aid :( Don’t you get it? Many environmental activists are Marxists. Environmentalism is just a propaganda ploy. I realize, as a European, you are at a bit of a disadvantage because of the total saturation of your culture with anti-American and anti-capitalist propaganda ( I lived in Germany a few years in my youth). And that has molded you guys into developing a distorting world view that prevents you from seeing propaganda for what it is. Your argument that environmentalists can’t be Marxist because Marxism is bad for the environment is just plain silly.

    I do find it interesting that you could not find any support for your odd ideas, and you insult instead. You may have great difficulties understanding the principles of debate, but when you resort to name calling it’s generally a good indication that you have lost the plot. I’m aware that politics in the USA are much more right wing than in Europe, but that does not mean that we are any less skeptical. Try reading the posts that come from the UK. Lots of them eh! And we are part of Europe. Just because we oppose the current climate change dogma does not make us fascists, and supporting the dogma does not make one a Marxist. I suspect you don’t quite understand the meaning of Marxism, it’s understandable because many dictators didn’t either. By the way I did not say a characteristic of Marxism is that it is not environmental, my point was that in keeping with many totalitarian systems, it does not care. The only object is the maintenance of power and everything else is subservient to that end. Bit like any political system. You are right, many left wingers are environmentalists, though most Marxists I know are not. However I sure many on the extreme right of politics such as the Tea party are also environmentalists, even if it’s just to the extent of having enough animals to shoot each season.
    I did not quite get your joke, what is Koolaid? is it like Tizer or Lucozade or some sort of squash? It obviously has some sort of in-joke, but it’s not my culture so it’s gone over my head to be honest. Good to hear you spent time in Germany, I guess in the forces? Interesting that you found one of the worlds most successful economies saturated with anti-capitalist propaganda. I wonder who it was aimed at? I also spent many happy months riding my motorcycle around the United States and found it strange that so few citizens had travelled outside that great country, so I would imagine having experiences of each others cultures we are in the minority.
    Can I also recommend “Teach yourself Marxism” I found it useful and is a helpful primer if you are interested in learning some political philosophy. Compare it with a primer on Fascism, and note the similarities.
    heres a link.

  70. Gareth Phillips says:

    BS Footprint says:
    October 22, 2010 at 11:06 am
    pat says:
    October 20, 2010 at 8:47 pm
    Louise has a new angle today:

    20 Oct: UK Telegraph: Louise Gray: World must start putting a value on
    nature
    Natural goods and services, such as the pollination provided by bees or
    filtration of water by wetlands, should be included in a nation’s economic
    value in the same way as GDP, according to a major new United Nations
    report.

    Insanity takes many forms.

    Reply

    Yes I saw that, personally I rather felt it supported the idea that the climate change dogma is about money more than anything else.

  71. Will Crump says:

    DAVIS STRAIT POLAR BEARS

    These bears sure stir up a lot of controversy.

    Here is the 2006 to 2011 plan for the Davis Strait polar bears: http://www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/wildlife/…/polar_bear_mgmnt_plan.pdf

    The controversy in the Davis Strait appears to be over economic harvesting of the bears v. sustaining the number of bears. While the bears had been increasing in number, they may be decreasing due to loss of sea ice and due to harvesting. A 2007 survey indicated 2,012 bears with the targeted population number set at 1,650. I did not find when the next survey was due to occur.

    This October 2009 article indicated that Davis Strait bears may be in decline.

    NEWS: Nunavut October 12, 2009 – 1:58 pm
    Davis Strait bear numbers healthy, but could decline
    “The population, having increased substantially over the last three decades, is now at the point of decline”

    JANE GEORGE

    The Davis Strait polar bear population is more numerous than originally thought, a recent Government of Nunavut survey reveals, but may just be the boom before the bust.

    The survey report, led by Government of Nunavut biologist Elizabeth Peacock, says that the bear population in the area will drop even if the quota remains the same.

    The Nunavut Wildlife Management Board received the report at its recent meeting in Iqaluit.

    The NWMB now plans to call a public hearing on a possible change to Nunavut’s annual polar bear quota of 46 in the Davis Strait.

    There are 2,142 polar bears in the Davis Strait population, according to GN’s three-year survey, carried out between 2005 and 2007.

    “The DS polar bear subpopulation is currently abundant and healthy,” says a background document from the GN that was tabled with the NWMB.

    The survey report’s findings confirm what Inuit hunters have said for a long time: polar bears along the southeast coast of Baffin Island, in northern Nunavik, and the northern coast of Labrador, are growing in number.

    Inuit hunters had already revised the Davis Strait population estimates 10 years ago from 850 to 1,400, then up to 1,650 in 2004, based on the number of polar bears they encountered on the land.

    “Earlier figures were underestimates,” the survey report admits.

    The numbers of polar bears have increased due to a population explosion among harp seals and the relatively low harvest rate of about 60 bears a year, the survey report says.

    Although polar bear numbers in the Davis Strait have increased, the report’s authors also predict these numbers will decline — even without more hunting.

    That’s because survival rates are down at the same time as the harp seal population is decreasing and sea ice cover shrinks.

    The survey was carried out “just after a peak in population numbers,” suggests a background document tabled at the NWMB.
    While Peacock, who has recently left the GN for a new job in Alaska, says in the report that “it is unknown if this decline will continue,” she still concludes that the Davis Strait polar bear population will drop.

    “We conclude that the population, having increased substantially over the last three decades is now at the point of decline,” says the survey report.

    If the quota remains the same, the number of polar bears in the Davis Strait will reach 1,650, the current target figure for the population, in 2012, but then it will decline to 1,400 in 2016, says the report.

    If the quota is raised to 85 bears (by adding 20 bears to the number already hunted), the population will be only be 1,200 in 2016, it says.

    If there was no hunting at all in the Davis Strait, the numbers of polar bears would rise to 1,950 in 2016, it says.

    To estimate population size, annual survival and population growth, biologists relied on analysis of their population data from 1974 to 2007 and the results of the mark-recapture-recovery survey from 2005 to 2007.

    The survey saw about 800 polar bears marked and recaptured every year over this three-year period.

    Every polar bear observed was captured, “providing capture was safe for bears and crew,” says the survey report.

    The polar bears were “immobilized” with tranquilizer darts, given a capture number on an ear tag and lip tattoo and measured. A premolar tooth was also pulled to help aging of the animals.

    A public opinion poll, conducted by the GN researcher Moshi Kotierk, also looked at 130 Nunavut households, finding that most hunters feel there are “many polar bears” in the Davis Strait and more than they would prefer.

    As it stands now, the Nunavut communities of Pangnirtung, Iqaluit and Kimmirut share 46 tags annually.

    Labrador hunters take about six Davis Strait polar bears a year.

    Nunavik hunters hunt as many Davis Strait bears as they want, averaging a take of about 12 over the past five years.

    Greenland has a quota of two, but didn’t take any polar bears at all from the Davis Strait between 2005 and 2007.

    There is little sport hunting in the Davis Strait, and no polar bears were killed by non-Inuit hunters in 2008-09.

    In an April 2010 update the politics continued:

    POLAR BEAR POLITICS
    OTTAWA | April 1, 2010
    http://www.capitalnews.ca/index.php/news/polar-politics

    “The defeat of an American proposal to ban the international trade of polar bear products was met with relief by Canada’s Inuit, who say threats to the iconic northern animal have been overblown.

    The U.S. proposal was rejected at a meeting in Qatar in mid-March of the 175 countries signed to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The U.S. was trying to have polar bears transferred from Appendix II of the convention, which lists species not yet threatened with extinction, to Appendix I, reserved for the most endangered.

    That reclassification would have banned Canadian exports of products like rugs and effectively put an end to commercial polar bear hunting.

    Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said in a statement that the proposal was “unwarranted and unacceptable.”
    “This is yet another example of government bowing to pressure from animal rights and environmental lobbyists with their own selfish and narrow agendas,” the statement read. “It is an attack on our rights, culture, hunting practices, conservation and management agreements, and our local economies as an indigenous peoples of the Arctic.”

    There are between 20,000 and 25,000 polar bears worldwide and about 60 per cent are in Canada. Nunavut’s wildlife management system puts the total allowable harvest per year at 3.5 per cent of the population or between 430 and 530 bears. Tags are given to communities to be divvied up between commercial and subsistence hunts.

    Canada is the only country that allows commercial hunts, which must be led by Inuit guides. They were popular with American hunters until the U.S. banned the import of polar bear products into their country in 2008.

    Simon Awa, Deputy Minister of Environment for Nunavut, says the loss of American hunting clientele has been “devastating” for Inuit communities who depended on the hunt for income.

    “Especially for the hunters who don’t know any other ways of earning income because they have been brought up as a hunter,” Awa says.

    Livelihoods in peril

    Ryan St. John learned how to hunt polar bears from his uncle. He shot his first one at 17. Now he and his wife run Henik Lake Adventures in Arviat, Nunavut, offering guided hunts.

    Polar bear hunts once injected about $300,000 into the community, St. John says. The people who worked the hunts – guides, cooks, supply runners – all made enough money during the hunting season to sustain themselves for the rest of the year.

    He says that all but dried up when the American import ban was implemented “The people that were involved, now they don’t have the money for snowmobiles, ATVs, guns – the things they need to support their subsistence lifestyle,” he says.

    Andrew Derocher, a researcher from the University of Alberta who studies the movement patterns and distribution of polar bears in Canada’s north, says hunting and international trade of the animals “is not a threat in any way, shape or form.”

    Climate change, he says, is the real threat to the marine mammals.

    “It was a bit of a red herring,” says Derocher. “I think this was probably seen as a clever move… to deflect the issue: ‘If we get people to focus on the issue of harvest, then we don’t have to address the issue of climate change.'”

    In its proposal, the U.S. acknowledged that habitat loss due to climate change is the main threat to polar bears but expressed concern that hunting would compound those effects.

    What’s in a name?

    A motivating factor behind both the CITES proposal and the import ban is the U.S. categorization of polar bears as “threatened” under their Endangered Species Program. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada lists polar bears as of “special concern,” meaning they may become threatened or endangered.

    While he disagreed with the trade-ban proposal, Derocher says when it comes to their seemingly more serious classification, “the Americans got it right.”

    “The reason we’ve got a difference is because Canada dropped the ball,” Derocher says.

    Dr. Jeff Hutchings, chair of COSEWIC, says differences between the two assessment systems make a comparison misleading. Canada, for instance, has three categories for species at risk – special concern, threatened and endangered – while the U.S. recognizes only the latter two.

    “People get caught up in labels,” Hutching says. “At the end of the day, people are better served to expend their energies doing what they can to protect polar bears.”

    St. John says polar bears don’t need protection from hunters. Nunavut’s wildlife management system is one of the best in the world, he says, and ensures that hunting is sustainable.

    He says he has seen the effects of climate change on polar bears. They have moved further north as the south warms, causing sea ice – polar bears’ hunting ground – to melt earlier and freeze later.

    But he doesn’t think polar bears are in any immediate danger.

    “Animals are resilient. They’re not going to roll over and die because it’s warm further south and they can’t get to their food source,” St. John says.

    Awa agrees.

    “I always try to emphasize that as long as the earth’s axis remains about the same, the Arctic will always have a winter,” he says. “And the polar bears will adapt.”

    There is also a controversy over the listing status of the bears by Nunavut.

    IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group response to Nunavut listing decision.

    10 June 2010 | News – News story

    The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) is concerned about the Government of Nunavut’s recent decision not to support the proposed listing of polar bears as a Species of Special Concern under Canada’s Species At Risk Act. In justifying this position, the Government of Nunavut stated that Inuit knowledge and science corroborate that polar bears in Nunavut are “thriving” and “will adapt to changing and severe climatic conditions”. The PBSG believes this position is contrary to all available evidence, and will not lead to the best possible conservation of the species.

    As an IUCN SSC member specialist group comprised of up to 25 technical experts from the five polar bear range states, the PBSG is the single most authoritative source of information on the world’s polar bears. Its official charge is to produce and compile scientific knowledge about the world’s polar bears. The PBSG provides independent scientific advice to decision-makers and management authorities and is the official scientific advisory group to the parties of the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears.

    The PBSG has reviewed the science surrounding polar bears and climate warming. Although the PBSG recognizes that climate change and the subsequent impacts on polar bears will occur at different rates and times throughout the circumpolar Arctic, it has concluded that unabated global warming will ultimately threaten polar bears everywhere. The loss of sea ice habitat (upon which polar bears depend for feeding, traveling and mating) associated with climate warming poses a significant and ongoing threat to the conservation of the species. There is no scientific evidence to support the suggestion that polar bears will adapt to the pace and scale of current and projected habitat loss.

    The polar bear is currently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ and was recently listed by the United States as “Threatened throughout its range” under the US Endangered Species Act. These listing decisions were based on extensive reviews of the scientific evidence suggesting a significant loss of sea ice habitat projected or observed over a period of three generations (up to 45 years). Co-managed subpopulations in Davis Strait, Southern Hudson Bay and Western Hudson Bay, which are shared by Nunavut, have been designated as Vulnerable or Threatened under provincial legislation in Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and Manitoba. Furthermore, Greenland shares three polar bear populations with Nunavut: Kane Basin, Baffin Bay and Davis Strait. In 2007, Greenland designated these populations as Vulnerable on its Red List. These designations were underpinned by observed and projected impacts of climate warming.

    At their March 2009 meeting in Tromsø, Norway, the five polar bear range states expressed deep concern over the accelerating rate and extent of changes in the Arctic induced by climate warming. They unanimously agreed that the impacts of climate change and the continued and increasing loss and fragmentation of sea ice – the key habitat for both polar bears and their main prey – constituted the most important threat to polar bear conservation. In accordance with that finding, the PBSG passed a resolution in July 2009 recognizing that Environment Canada’s proposal to formally list polar bears as a species of Special Concern was based on a report that failed to account for the projected effects of global warming and was therefore excessively optimistic in its conservation outlook relative to similar reports used to inform the listing decisions of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS 2008) and the IUCN (Schliebe et al. 2008). In 2009, the PBSG also resolved that “Polar bear range state governments and designated authorities agree to consider the current and likely future impacts of global warming in all management and planning affecting polar bears and their key habitats.”

    In concert with the above referenced findings and resolutions, the PBSG encourages the Government of Nunavut to re-examine its position and adhere to the international Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, which states: “Each contracting Party shall… manage polar bear populations in accordance with sound conservation practices based on the best available scientific data” (Article II). We similarly urge the Canadian Government, through its Species At Risk Act, to use the best available science in developing a responsible conservation strategy for most of the world’s polar bears.

    The Inuit hunters, of course, want a higher quota.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010
    Nunatsiavut Hunters Calling for Higher Polar Bear Quota

    The possibility of increasing Nunatsiavut’s polar bear quota was up for discussion during a meeting of three Inuit regions.

    Representatives from Nunavik, Nunavut and Nunatsiavut came together to discuss the Davis Strait polar bear population.

    Jamie Snook is the Executive Director for the Torngat Secretariat.

    He says11 representatives from Labrador attended the first ever Davis Strait Polar Bear Interjurisdictional Meeting.

    The attendees included local hunters, government representatives and members of the Torngat Wildlife and Plant Co-management Board.

    They met in Kuujuaq, Nunavik, last week.

    Snook says they discussed the current state of the Davis Strait polar bear population and management of the polar bear hunt.

    The Davis Strait polar bear population is the highest and most densely populated of any other.

    They discussed the science behind the population and shared traditional knowledge on polar bears.

    Safety concerns about the high number of polar bears were also discussed.

    A resolution was passed during the meeting to increase Nunatsiavut’s polar bear quota by six bears.

    The proposed increase would bring Nunatsiavut’s quota to a total of 12 polar bears.

    The resolution was supported by all three Inuit regions involved.

    Snook says that the participants will now bring the recommendations to their respective governments in hopes of increasing the quota.

    He adds that the meeting was a huge success and they hope that it is something that will happen again in the future.

  72. DesertYote says:

    Will Crump
    October 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    You have dug up some interesting stuff. The Elizabeth Peacock study is pretty important for setting the tone of PBSG. I personally find problems with it, though I have not run across any studies that refute it. That is not too surprising as most of the science suffers from agenda-itis. Currently, the PBSG has all Polar Bear science wrapped up. If you read through the information on their website, you might notice a few things. The one that I find most interesting is the lockstep mentality of its members with a strong desire to stay on message. Their response to the Nunavut Nation is a perfect example of what I am talking about, consensus science at its best. Contrast that with the literature found on some of the other specialty groups websites.

    The problems I have with the current studies that are being promoted as demonstrating that Polar Bears populations are declining are twofold. One they suffer from selection bias in collection of data(calculated birth and survival rates) and in the design of the models used to analyze the data. Second, they ignore the garbage issue. These southern populations would not even be at their current levels without human trash. The last study I recall that dealt with this issue was done way back in the eighties. I can’t for life of me remember the authors involved.

    If I have some time tonight, I will do some digging around, though to be truthful, I doubt I will find what I am looking for. Most of the accessible literature is pretty one sided, and too much of it is behind pay-walls :(

  73. Mike G says:

    @Gareth Phillips

    Mister, we could use a man like senator McCarthy again!

  74. DesertYote says:

    Gareth Phillips says:
    October 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    First, after I submitted my last post, I thought to myself, “hope he’s not in the UK”, then I looked at your name, damn. I am well aware of the conservative movement in the UK, though from the language you use, I am assuming that you see the world via a socialist world view. That whole left-wing right-wing thing is a fallacious dichotomy promoted by socialist. They are just the two sides of the socialist coin. As you noted, there is a lot of commonality between fascism and Marxism.

    Second, many of my friend accuse me of playing too rough. I get frustrated when people don’t see what I think should be obvious. The CBD has a long and storied history. They have been at the center of virtually every environmental lawsuit in the US for the past decade. California is a developmental basket case because of then. Ever here of the Delta Smelt? It should be trivial for you to find the facts for yourself.

    BTW, did you bother to Google the CBD? If you did, didn’t you notice something very peculiar? Or do you think it is natural for the first seven links to be to the CBD website itself, followed by a couple of CBD owned propaganda sites and an article on the far left wing huffpo?

    Third, I am quite familiar with political philosophies of all stripes, and am surprising well read for an American. I tend to be a bit bombastic in my anti-socialist rhetoric, but that is not because of ignorance. In fact, when I get a fact wrong, I usually appreciate being corrected because I hate being wrong. Holding a wrong fact is like walking around with ones fly down. Being told about it is embarrassing but better then walking about obliviously. If I have any question regarding Marxism ( or any philosophy for that matter) I have a room-mate with a master in philosophy from Columbia University to ask questions of. Though, I might take a look at the book you recommend, but I have a resent work on canine evolution to get through first. It is even denser then Marxist writings! As I consider Marxist to be the enemy of mankind, I have taken care to learn their tactics. Its not hard to do, just need to spend some time around the University.

    Fourth, … just goes to show how resilient the Germans work ethic can be. Though they don’t have the history of the quest for freedom that you guys in the UK have, so I worry about them.

    Fifth, “Drinking the Kool-aid” means to be blinded by ideology, or to accept the propaganda as truth.

  75. Gareth Phillips says:

    Thank you desert Yote for your detailed explanation. Interestingly it’s difficult to compare political systems from the UK and USA. From your perspective we are rampant socialists, but are considered to be very middle of the road in the UK, whereas we see your you Democratic party as a right wing Conservative party, and your Tea Party as alarmingly hard right with very unsavoury ideas.
    I agree about Marxism, I tend to call any friends I have who have such tendencies “wide eyed Marxists”. My Dad used to say ” if you are not a Marxist when you are young, you have no heart, if you are still a Marxist as an adult, you have no sense”
    As a result of our political differences we start from a different base. We see your Presidents reforms in health care as a welcome development in a country renown for
    inequalities in health, you no doubt see it as an assault on the freedom of people to get the level of healthcare they deserve. We see it as a useful indicator of your countries maturity, the tea party and Republicans are extremely upset.
    As I mentioned, the perception of politics in the USA is very different. Most countries in Europe have communist parties, it’s not a problem, they don’t get many votes, but it’s a part of democracy. No-one hassles them, we also have fascist and far right parties, probably more dangerous, but again in a democratic system that’s the way it goes.
    Now imagine there were 2 conventions in Mississippi . One by the Communist party of the USA supported by Marxists and Trotkyists, and another held by the Fascist parties of the USA supported by the Ku Klux Klowns and other far right groups. Who would get the most stick? Probably the Marxists. In Europe it would be the other way round.
    I did search your group, but our Google operates with UK and European results, we have to change the settings to get results from the USA. Your post eventually popped up! But I did not find any solid links between Marxist parties and and this environmental group, apart from being one of hundreds of organisations in the same conference.
    I suspect what is happening here is that you believe because of your cultural base that you believe the CBD to be behaving like Marxists due to their activities, but most people outside the USA, especially those who had had experience of such systems or knew Marxists would see no connection.
    So in effect we have to admit that I am Welsh, with the traditional Welsh view of the World, and you are American with yours. Hopefully we can agree on that without insulting each other. Thanks for the kool aid hint, it was a new one on me. I’m away for the weekend, see you next tuesday!

  76. Will Crump says:

    DesertYote says:
    October 22, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    I am a bit surprised that you did not raise an easier criticism concerning the numbers game, which is that accurte data are nearly non-existent. One look at the number of data deficient blocks in the March 2010 chart update and the dates of the surveys supporting the numbers shows that the number of bears at any particular time is an open question.

    http://pbsg.npolar.no/en/status/status-table.html

    Please re-think this statement and the bias exhibited in its focus:

    “Second, they ignore the garbage issue. These southern populations would not even be at their current levels without human trash.”

    Is your solution to the threat the bears face to allow them to feed at garbage dumps?

    I do not think that is a good idea as it increases the number of bear – human encounters which appears to have a higher negative percentage effect on the number of polar bears than it does on the number of humans on the planet.

    The really sad part of your analysis is that you are focused on garbage feeding as somehow resulting in an artificial spike in the numbers from which the declines are being measured, and I believe this reflects a particular bias that you are bringing to the discussion.

    The groups relying on the increase in numbers position to support their viewpoint never get around to admitting that the numbers they are using for the past number of bears are even more suspect than the estimates of how many bears there are today.

    But this is a minor point compared to the real reason why the numbers of bears have increased. The problem with the increase in polar bear numbers position is not garbage, it is the usually undisclosed reason why the historical bear numbers these groups so desparately cite were so low in the first place. While the number of bears in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s appears to be an open question, with some groups using a low point number of 5,000, a near extinction level, there does not appear to be any doubt that there were fewer bears at these times than there are today.

    The reason there were fewer bears at these times is not that the natural habitat could only support this number of bears, rather it is because of harvesting by humans. It is therefore dishonest to use these numbers to indicate that the bears do not need some level of protection or that their numbers are increasng, since the historical reference numbers used by the “bears are increasing groups” do not represent a natural state of bear numbers.

    Shouldn’t your focus be on how many bears there would be if there was no hunting and the bears were not allowed to use the garbage dumps as a feeding station?

    If you want to use an unbiased number, then compare the current status of the bears with the estimates of the number of bears before the era of technologically advanced “harvesting” witnessed in the first half of the 20th century.

    The other problem with the polar bear issue is that it has become entangled with global warming, with people lining up on sides of the polar bear protection debate based on their view of whether people are a contributing to global warming.

    Is it really so difficult to believe that if the current warmng trends continue (regardless of the forces causing the warming) that the bears will decline?

    Of course, the bears have been around for 200,000 years or so and have survived habitat pressures in the past. People who cite past periods of warming as proof the bears can survive any current warming ignore the fact that the bears of these periods did not have to face the level of human predation and human habitat destruction that exists today. They also convenienly ignore that polar bears may nearly have been wiped out during these periods and that we have no data on what they actually experienced or how they managed to survive.

    Eliminate the concerns about whether the plight of the bears can be used as a method of advancing the political agenda of AGW groups and focus on the bears. Pass a rule that the bears can not be used to support restrictions on CO2 (as if the plight of the bears alone would ever be sufficient or meaningful reason to enact such restrictions).

    The bears need protection. Without existing protections, we would not have the number of bears that we have today. Is that so difficult to understand? Isn’t the discussion only a matter of what degree of protection is needed?

    I have not looked into whether the standard of endangered species requires a showing of imminent extinction. I submit that the bears will not go extinct in the next 60 years. The study cited above only stated that:

    “Projected changes in future sea ice conditions, if realized, will result in loss of approximately 2/3 of the world’s current polar bear population by the mid 21st century. Because the observed trajectory of Arctic sea ice decline appears to be underestimated by currently available models, this assessment of future polar bear status may be conservative.”

    If the study is correct, then the bears need help. If the arctic ice recovers and this scenario becomes less likely, then the bears can be delisted. Treating the bears as endangered would not stop all economic development in the bear’s habitat and would not require the end of all harvesting.

    The economic forces aligned against the bears have sufficient resources to produce their own forecasts and models showing no impact on the bears from declining sea-ice and human impacts that deteriorate their habitat. The failure of these groups to produce such studies and their reliance on the increase in bear numbers from artificial lows cast doubts on the legitimacy of the position that the bears need no help.

    Under the IUCN standards listed below, the classification of polar bears is “vulnerable”.

    IUCN Red List Endangered species
    IUCN Red List refers to a specific category of threatened species, and may include critically endangered species. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species uses the term endangered species as a specific category of imperilment, rather than as a general term. Under the IUCN Categories and Criteria, endangered species is between critically endangered and vulnerable. Also critically endangered species may also be counted as endangered species and fill all the criteria

    The more general term used by the IUCN for species at risk of extinction is threatened species, which also includes the less-at-risk category of vulnerable species together with endangered and critically endangered. IUCN categories include:

    Extinct:
    Philippine Eagle, pictured in Davao Citythe last remaining member of the species has died, or is presumed beyond reasonable doubt to have died. Examples: Javan Tiger, Thylacine, Dodo, Passenger Pigeon, Caribbean Monk Seal, Dimetrodon, Aurochs, Dusky Seaside Sparrow

    Extinct in the wild: captive individuals survive, but there is no free-living, natural population. Examples: Alagoas Curassow

    Critically endangered: faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future. Examples: Mountain Gorilla, Arakan Forest Turtle, Darwin’s Fox, Javan Rhino, Brazilian Merganser, Gharial, Vaquita

    Endangered: faces a very high risk of extinction in the near future. Examples: Dhole, Blue Whale, Bonobo, Ethiopian wolf, Giant Panda, Snow Leopard, African Wild Dog, Tiger, Indian Rhinoceros, three species of Albatrosses, Crowned Solitary Eagle, Philippine Eagle, Markhor, Orangutan, Grevy’s zebra, Tasmanian Devil,

    Vulnerable: faces a high risk of extinction in the medium-term. Examples: Cheetah, Gaur, Lion, Sloth Bear, Manatee, Polar Bear, African Golden Cat, Komodo dragon, Golden hamster

    Conservation dependent: The following animals are not severely threatened, but must depend on conservation programs. Examples: Spotted Hyena, Blanford’s fox, Leopard Shark, Black Caiman, Killer whale

    Near threatened: may be considered threatened in the near future. Examples: Blue-billed Duck, Solitary Eagle, Small-clawed Otter, Maned Wolf, Tiger Shark, Okapi

    Least concern: no immediate threat to the survival of the species. Examples: Nootka Cypress, Wood Pigeon, White-tailed Mongoose, House Mouse, Wolverine [3]

    Arctic indigenous people cling to polar bear hunt
    (AFP) – Mar 19, 2009

    TROMSOE, Norway (AFP) — Hunting polar bears has been banned since 1973 but the Arctic’s indigenous peoples are exempt out of respect for their ancestral traditions, despite scientists’ objections over how the quotas are divided.

    “When I was a child, it was forbidden to speak our language, to do things like dancing because missionaries said we were worshipping the devils,” said Charles Johnson, an Inuit from the small town of Nome, Alaska.

    “We need to keep our traditions alive. That includes regaining our language, regaining our culture and polar bear hunting is part of that,” he said on the sidelines of a follow-up meeting in the Norwegian town of Tromsoe on a 1973 polar bear conservation agreement.

    Signed by the five Arctic states that have polar bears — Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia and the United States — the pact bans the hunt except in rare cases.

    Article 3 of the agreement stipulates that “any contracting party may allow the taking of polar bears when such taking is carried out … by local people using traditional methods in the exercise of their traditional rights.”

    Indigenous people consider the practice essential to their survival even though the bear accounts for only a small part of their diet and despite the fact that the species is under threat from climate change.

    In Canada, which is home to two-thirds of the world’s polar bears, part of the hunting quotas go to sports hunting by wealthy tourists.

    “Subsistence is not just about nutrition. It is also about economic subsistence for the community,” said Virginia Poter, the director general of the Canadian Wildlife Service.

    A 10-day hunting expedition with a guide can bring in up to 30,000 Canadian dollars (24,400 US dollars, 18,000 euros) to the local population, or 1.87 million Canadian dollars annually.

    “And the meat and fat usually remain in the country,” she said.

    The situation in Alaska is very different, where sports hunting is not allowed.

    “There’s no money involved, it’s all about sharing,” said Taqulik Hepa, an Inuit from Barrow in northern Alaska.

    “When a polar bear is harvested, an announcement is made in the community and people come to the hunter’s house to share the meat. It goes in no time,” she said.

    Each year, some 700 bears are killed in Canada, Greenland and Alaska out of a total population of 20,000 to 25,000 — a level that scientists generally deem sustainable.

    But a bone of contention is how the quotas are divvied up between different polar bear populations.

    In the winter of 2004, authorities in the Canadian territory of Nunavut sharply increased quotas in Baffin Bay located between Canada and Greenland, from 64 to 105 animals.

    The decision was based on Inuit accounts of increasingly frequent bear sightings.

    “Raising quotas was a mistake,” said Canadian polar bear expert Ian Stirling.

    “People reported seeing more polar bears and the interpretation was that there were more polar bears. But the truth is that it was probably linked to the melting of sea ice, which forced bears onto land,” he told AFP.

    Added to the Greenland Inuits’ taking of about 100 bears from the same population, the Nunavut decision has endangered the survival of the species in the area, according to scientists who said a sustainable quota to be shared by the two countries was 93.

    “The population I’m most concerned about is the one in Baffin Bay,” Stirling said

  77. Will Crump says:

    BAFFIN BAY POLAR BEARS

    In Baffin Bay the issue of how to manage the bears is challenged by Inuit who make a living from hunting the bears. Below are excerpts from several recent articles concerning the harvest quota in Baffin Bay and a new polar bear conservation center in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which is considerably south of Churchill and about 150 km from the Hudson Bay coastline and where appearences by wild polar bears are rare. http://www.winnipegsun.com/news/manitoba/2010/08/30/15185721.html

    Baffin Bay polar bear hunting quota to be cut
    Last Updated: Friday, March 5, 2010

    “The Nunavut government is reducing the number of polar bears that hunters can kill in the Baffin Bay region, where polar bear numbers have been disputed by scientists and Inuit.

    Environment Minister Daniel Shewchuk announced Friday that starting this year, the hunting quota, also known as the total allowable harvest, for polar bears in Baffin Bay will be cut by 10 bears annually for four years.

    That means the current quota of 105 Baffin Bay polar bears will be reduced to 65 by 2013.

    “This population has been considered a conservation concern for some time now,” Shewchuk told reporters Friday in Iqaluit.

    “It is time to take action to ensure the sustainability of this population into the future.”

    The remainder of the article is at:

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2010/03/05/baffin-bay-polar-bear-quota.html

    The reponse of the Inuit was to seek a government payoff for agreeing to a quota reduction.

    Pay Inuit for polar bear quota cut: Nunavut MLA
    Last Updated: Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    “A Nunavut MLA is the latest advocate of compensation for Inuit polar bear hunters whose livelihoods have been hurt by recent hunting quota cuts and trade bans on bear hides.

    The pressure is on Environment Minister Daniel Shewchuk to introduce some kind of compensation after he announced last week that he would slash the hunting quota in Nunavut’s Baffin Bay region.

    Starting this year, the quota will be cut by 10 polar bears each year for the next four years, bringing the number from 105 to 65 bears by 2013.

    Shewchuk announced the cuts in Baffin Bay, where scientists and Inuit have long disputed the true number of polar bears there, in the hopes that some import bans will be lifted on bear parts.

    Canada recently banned the export of fur, claws, skulls and other products from polar bears harvested in Baffin Bay, citing concerns about the bear population there. The European Union also bans importation of those items.

    As well, the United States banned the import of polar bear hides as hunting trophies in 2008, shortly after that country listed the polar bear as a threatened species.

    But Inuit living in Nunavut have long claimed that polar bear populations are growing, not shrinking as biologists have argued. Some have even reported more polar bear sightings in or near their communities.

    The remainder of the article is at:

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2010/03/10/nunavut-baffin-bay-compensation.html

    In a later article the need for the quota cut was acknowledge by Levi Palituq, an outfitter who will suffer an economic hit as a result of the cut.

    “To Clyde River outfitter Levi Palituq, who attended the public meeting in his community, it seemed as if older hunters and government officials just couldn’t see eye-to-eye on how to work together.

    “It’s not about us. It’s about our kids, our grandchildren,” said Palituq in an interview. “If we want polar bears 20 years from now, we’re supposed to be doing this.”

    But Palituq acknowledges he will suffer financially because of the quota cuts, which follow a federal government ban on the export of trophies from the Baffin Bay polar bear population.”

    Later in the article:

    Palituq is even thinking of getting out of outfitting because the business is getting harder and more expensive to run.

    “I don’t like it because I feel as a Nunavut resident. I feel that I should be able to go to my government and ask them for help, but I can’t,” he said.

    The remainder of the article is at:
    http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/8976_nunavut_hunters_still_enraged_over_bear_quotas

    To get a better census of bear numbers aerial surveys are being tested.

    Aerial Polar Bear Survey Tested in Baffin Bay: Nunavut, Canada and Greenland
    Tuesday, 15 June 2010 13:08
    Written by CBC News

    “Test survey successful
    Gissing said Nunavut government biologists have spent two years testing an aerial survey of polar bears in Foxe Basin.

    That survey went so well that the biologists believe the data they’ve collected would be sufficient for them to give official polar bear population estimates in that area.

    So this past spring, the biologists conducted a test aerial survey in Baffin Bay, along the coast near Qikitarjuaq, using cameras and onboard observers.

    “I’m cautious to make any predictions on the outcome of the pilot study in the Baffin Bay. However, it was 35 hours that the scientists flew and they saw 29 groups of polar bears; a total of 45 bears were seen,” he said.

    “That’s encouraging that they did see as many as they did. I think they didn’t expect to see that many.”

    If researchers are happy with this spring’s test data, Gissing said a full Nunavut-Greenland joint aerial survey of Baffin Bay could take place next year.”

    The remainder of the article is at:

    http://eyeonthearctic.rcinet.ca/en/news/canada/44-environment/247-aerial-polar-bear-survey-tested-in-baffin-bay-nunavut-canada-and-greenland

    Another avenue for economic development that does not require harvesting the bears

    Polar Bears International to Open Rescue and Rehabilitation Center

    “This summer plans were announced to construct the new International Polar Bear Conservation Centre (IPBCC) at Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo. In June Polar Bears International announced plans to open a new polar bear center this coming fall at the Manitoba zoo. The center will serve as an international hub for zoo (collection)-based research and education resources as well as a quarantine, holding, and transition centre for orphaned polar bear cubs, injured sub-adults, or bears affected by a catastrophic events (such as oil spills).

    Polar bear rehabilitation, research and public education will be the focus of the first-of-its-kind, world-class International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said in June this year, during a snow-turning ceremony to announce Canada $1 million in provincial funding for the Assiniboine Conservancy, the first part of a $31-million provincial commitment. The provincial commitment will include $4.5 million for the conservation centre and more than $26 million for construction of a polar-bear arctic exhibit. Right to Left: Don Streuber, Vice Chair Board of Directors Assiniboine Park Conservancy, Robert W. Buchanan, CEO & President Polar Bears International, Greg Selinger, Premier Province of Manitoba, Bill Blaikie, Minister of Conservation Province of Manitoba.”

    Bears from this unique population can’t be rehabilitated, because according to PBI President and CEO, Robert Buchanan, “At this point we do not have the ability to return orphaned cubs to the wild and know that they would survive long.”

    Some adult bears will be returned to the wild and others will be provided sanctuary and used to augment the existing captive gene pool in zoological parks and other captive wildlife facilities.

    Emergency response unit for bears in distress

    This center will serve as an international resource and authority for polar bear husbandry science, operate as an emergency response unit for bears in distress, which is in increasingly more common in a compromised habitat, and provide a location for field biologists and husbandry professionals alike to convene for formal meetings and workshops, as well informal opportunities to exchange information.”

    The full article is at:
    http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/news/chiefeditor/2010/09/international-polar-bear-conservation-center.html

  78. Will Crump says:

    I will also look for some information on where polar bears are increasing which allow for an increase in the harvesting quota.

  79. DirkH says:

    DesertYote says:
    October 22, 2010 at 9:26 pm
    “Fourth, … just goes to show how resilient the Germans work ethic can be. Though they don’t have the history of the quest for freedom that you guys in the UK have, so I worry about them.”

    Yote, even in Germany, productivity drops like a stone when Marxists are in power. Which is simply in the nature of Marxism. We exported a lot of Marxism but we didn’t use it that much ourselves. Except for the GDR, but that was a very poor torture regime. Like Kuba without the sunshine.

  80. Will Crump says:

    I have not been able to find info on increases in polar bear hunting quotas beyond the 2005 increase for Nunavut of 115 bears and a September 2010 proposal of a 6 bear increase in Nunatsiavut, which appears to be a proposal that has not been approved.

    January 2005 harvesting quota increase of 115 bears in Nunavat.

    Hunters win hike in polar bear quota
    Published online 4 April 2005 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news050404-2

    “In January, the total quota for hunters in Nunavut was raised from 403 bears to 518. Permission to kill more bears was granted following both requests from indigenous Inuit hunters, who said that they had observed more bears in the region this year, and advice from local wildlife organizations.

    Polar bears, besides seals and walrus, are a major source of meat, fat and skin for Eskimos, who live in small enclaves in coastal areas of Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and northeastern Siberia. Numerous polar bears are also killed for sport by hunters, mainly from the United States, who pay up to US$28,000 for a hunting permit.

    But scientists say that the decision violates the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears. This was signed by Canada, Denmark, Norway, the United States and the Soviet Union, as it then was, to protect polar-bear populations and their habitats from excessive hunting. The agreement aims to ensure sustainable, science-based management of the mammals, and requires consultation between signatory parties before quotas can be changed.

    “The observed increase in local density alone does not justify a higher quota,” says Øystein Wiig, a mammalogist at the University of Oslo’s Zoological Museum, and an expert on polar bears with the World Conservation Union. “The amount of harvest could be much higher than the populations in the Baffin Bay can actually take.

    Bear necessities
    Of the Arctic region’s estimated 25,000 polar bears, around half live in northern Canada. Worldwide, roughly 1,000 animals are killed each year by hunters. The species is not yet classified as endangered, but scientists are concerned that environmental changes may pose an increasing threat to the mammals.

    Norwegian researchers revealed in 2003 that bears that roam large distances accumulate relatively high levels of industrial pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs, in their bodies1.

    Canadian officials dismiss this view. Mitch Taylor, the Nunavut government’s chief polar-bear biologist, says that scientific studies were certainly considered before increasing the quota. And officials in Nunavut claim that traditional Inuit knowledge about population size deserves more trust than it has had in the past. ”

    Moreover, there is growing concern about habitat losses associated with global warming. The rise in the world’s temperatures is particularly pronounced at high latitudes, and the resulting ice melt threatens to leave many bears homeless. To survive, animals are forced into smaller areas, and increasingly stay on land during summer. This is the most likely explanation for the observed concentration of bears in the Nunavut region, Wiig believes.

    He adds that he is not challenging the Inuit’s right to hunt polar bears. “There is nothing wrong with hunting as long as their harvest is sustainable,” he says.

    References
    1. Haave M., et al. Environment Health Perspectives, 111. 431 – 436 (2003

    http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050404/full/news050404-2.html

    Optimizing Polar Bear Hunting and Fees in Nunavut
    Posted on September 28, 2005 by Brian Carnell

    The Canadian territory of Nunavut occupies almost 1/5th of that country but is home to only about 30,000 people — and quite a few polar bears. The territory is occupied largely by Inuit who have long hunted polar bear, and is also home to a multi-million dollar industry in selling polar bear hunting permits to foreigners.

    But how the annual polar bear quota is managed and how to best optimize the money earned from the hunt are topics that came to the fore this summer.

    In July, the Polar Bear Specialist Group warned that as the Arctic appears to be shrinking from the increase in global temperatures, polar bear habitat is likely to decline as well which could put population pressures on the polar bear. It warned that by 2055, the polar bear population worldwide could decline by up to 30 percent.

    Scott Schliebe, a researcher with the Polar Bear Specialist Group, told the CBC News,

    We’re seeing some fairly significant reductions in the actual area that pack ice occupies in the Arctic, and we’re seeing some thinning in the thickness of the ice.

    Schliebe and his fellow researchers issued their warning after Nunavut announced it was going to increase polar bear quotas for 2005. Again, Schliebe told the CBC News that his group believes Nunavut has overestimated the number of polar bears, adding that,

    We would like those levels to be adjusted to the current population abundance estimate, 950 animals, and we would like the adjustment to be calculated as sustainable over time,

    Nunavut announced in January that it was increasing the 2005 quote by 28 percent, saying that the population of polar bears is on the increase. But if the CBC is to be believed, its method of determining the polar bear population leaves a lot to be desired,

    Nunavut’s environment minister, Olayuk Akesuk, says government officials decided to increase the quota after consulting with Inuit elders and hunters about how much the bear population has increased.

    He said the government is open to making more decisions like this on the basis of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, or traditional knowledge.

    “We will respect more the say of the community and we want to see more of Inuit knowledge and western science included into one,” he said.

    Especially given the potential profit from polar bears, such increases should be based on sound scientific estimates of the number of polar bears, not hunters opinion about the status of the bear population.

    When it comes to profiting off of the bear hunt, however, an economic study of the bear hunt suggests that Nunavut is not maximizing the money it could make off the hunt. In a study funded by Nunavat and the Safari Club, Dr. George Wenzel of McGill University found that of the $2.9 million hunters spend on the polar bear hunt, only half of that ends up in the pockets of the Inuit.

    One of Wenzel’s major findings was that the Inuit may be underpricing polar bear tags. Currently it only charges $30,000 to $35,000, depending on the specific locale, to hunt a polar bear. Wenzel noted that in contrast U.S. hunters pay up to $400,0000 to hunt bighorn sheep in Alberta. As Wenzel told Nunatsiaq News,

    If you can sell a sheep for that much, I’m sure you could sell a polar bear for more money than is coming in.

    Currently, only about 50 polar bear hunt tags are sold to outside hunters. The rest are used by traditional Inuit hunters. Wenzel estimated that if Nunavut sold all its polar bear tags to outsiders, it could increase its income from the hunt to $14 million annually even if it stuck with the current $30,000 to $35,000 price.

    http://www.animalrights.net/2005/optimizing-polar-bear-hunting-and-fees-in-nunavut/

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010
    Nunatsiavut Hunters Calling for Higher Polar Bear Quota

    [Note: I was not able to confirm if the quota increase has been approved.]

    The possibility of increasing Nunatsiavut’s polar bear quota was up for discussion during a meeting of three Inuit regions.

    Representatives from Nunavik, Nunavut and Nunatsiavut came together to discuss the Davis Strait polar bear population.

    Jamie Snook is the Executive Director for the Torngat Secretariat.

    He says 11 representatives from Labrador attended the first ever Davis Strait Polar Bear Interjurisdictional Meeting.

    The attendees included local hunters, government representatives and members of the Torngat Wildlife and Plant Co-management Board.

    [The following is info on this organization that was not in the original article - The Torngat Wildlife and Plants Co-Management Board is a public body made up of seven members, including the chairperson. Members are appointed as follows: three members by the Nunatsiavut Government; two members by the provincial minister; one member by the federal minister. The chairperson is nominated by the other members and appointed by the provincial minister.

    The Board has the power to establish, when necessary, total allowable harvests for all species of wildlife other than migratory birds and caribou, and for plants. This power is subject to ministerial disallowance. The board may also recommend the total allowable harvests for caribou and migratory birds to the relevant minister.

    The board may recommend conservation and management measures for wildlife, plants and habitat, and provide advice and recommendations to the federal, provincial, and Nunatsiavut governments on all other matters related to the management of wildlife and plants in the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area.]

    They met in Kuujuaq, Nunavik, last week.

    Snook says they discussed the current state of the Davis Strait polar bear population and management of the polar bear hunt.

    The Davis Strait polar bear population is the highest and most densely populated of any other.

    They discussed the science behind the population and shared traditional knowledge on polar bears.

    Safety concerns about the high number of polar bears were also discussed.

    A resolution was passed during the meeting to increase Nunatsiavut’s polar bear quota by six bears.

    The proposed increase would bring Nunatsiavut’s quota to a total of 12 polar bears.

    The resolution was supported by all three Inuit regions involved.

    Snook says that the participants will now bring the recommendations to their respective governments in hopes of increasing the quota.

    He adds that the meeting was a huge success and they hope that it is something that will happen again in the future.

    http://610ckok.blogspot.com/2010/09/nunatsiavut-hunters-calling-for-higher.html

    From wikipedia:

    Russia

    The Soviet Union banned all harvest of polar bears in 1956, however poaching continued and is believed to pose a serious threat to the polar bear population.[24] In recent years, polar bears have approached coastal villages in Chukotka more frequently due to the shrinking of the sea ice, endangering humans and raising concerns that illegal hunting would become even more prevalent.[97] In 2007, the Russian government made subsistence hunting legal for Chukotka natives only, a move supported by Russia’s most prominent bear researchers and the World Wide Fund for Nature as a means to curb poaching.[97]

    Greenland

    In Greenland, restrictions for the species were first introduced in 1994 and expanded by executive order in 2005.[24] Until 2005, Greenland placed no limit on hunting by indigenous people. It imposed a limit of 150 for 2006. It also allowed recreational hunting for the first time.[98] Other provisions included year-round protection of cubs and mothers, restrictions on weapons used, and various administrative requirements to catalogue kills.[24]

    Canada and the United States

    About 500 bears are killed per year by humans across Canada,[99] a rate believed by scientists to be unsustainable for some areas, notably Baffin Bay.[23] Canada has allowed sport hunters accompanied by local guides and dog-sled teams since 1970,[100] but the practice was not common until the 1980s.[101] The guiding of sport hunters provides meaningful employment and an important source of income for native communities in which economic opportunities are few.[26] Sport hunting can bring CDN$20,000 to $35,000 per bear into northern communities, which until recently has been mostly from American hunters.[102]

    On 15 May 2008, the U.S. listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and banned all importing of polar bear trophies. Importing products made from polar bears had been prohibited from 1972 to 1994 under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and restricted between 1994 and 2008. Under those restrictions, permits from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service were required to import sport-hunted polar bear trophies taken in hunting expeditions in Canada. The permit process required that the bear be taken from an area with quotas based on sound management principles.[103] Since 1994, more than 800 sport-hunted polar bear trophies have been imported into the U.S.[104]

    Ironically, because of the way polar bear hunting quotas are managed in Canada, attempts to discourage sport hunting would actually increase the number of bears killed in the short term.[26] Canada allocates a certain number of permits each year to sport and subsistence hunting, and those that are not used for sport hunting are re-allocated to Native subsistence hunting. Whereas Native communities kill all the polar bears they are permitted to take each year, only half of sport hunters with permits actually manage to kill a polar bear. If a sport hunter does not kill a polar bear before his or her permit expires, the permit cannot be transferred to another hunter.[26]

    The territory of Nunavut accounts for 80% of Canadian kills.[99] In 2005, the government of Nunavut increased the quota from 400 to 518 bears,[105] despite protests from some scientific groups.[106] In two areas where harvest levels have been increased based on increased sightings, science-based studies have indicated declining populations, and a third area is considered data-deficient.[107] While most of that quota is hunted by the indigenous Inuit people, a growing share is sold to recreational hunters. (0.8% in the 1970s, 7.1% in the 1980s, and 14.6% in the 1990s)[101] Nunavut polar bear biologist, Mitchell Taylor, who was formerly responsible for polar bear conservation in the territory, insists that bear numbers are being sustained under current hunting limits.[108] The Government of the Northwest Territories maintain their own quota of 72–103 bears within the Inuvialuit communities of which some are set aside for sports hunters.

    In 2010, the 2005 increase was partially reversed. Government of Nunavut officials announced that the polar bear quota for the Baffin Bay region would be gradually reduced from 105 per year to 65 by the year 2013.[109] Environment Canada also banned the export from Canada of fur, claws, skulls and other products from polar bears harvested in Baffin Bay as of January 1, 2010.[109]

    Sources:

    99. ^ a b Lunn, N. J.; et al. (June 2005). “Polar Bear Management in Canada 2001–2004″. In Compiled and edited by Jon Aars (PDF). Proceedings of the 14th Working Meeting of the IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group. 32. Polar Bears, Nicholas J. Lunn and Andrew E. Derocher. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. pp. 101–116. ISBN 2-8317-0959-8. http://pbsg.npolar.no/docs/PBSG14proc.pdf. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
    100. Freeman, M.M.R.; Wenzel, G.W. (March 2006). “The nature and significance of polar bear conservation hunting in the Canadian Arctic”. Arctic 59 (1): pp. 21–30. ISSN 0004-0843.
    101. a b Wenzel, George W. (September 2004). “3rd NRF Open Meeting” (PDF). http://www.nrf.is/Open%20Meetings/Yellowknife_2004/Wenzel.pdf. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
    102. “Nunavut hunters can kill more polar bears this year”. CBC News. 10 January 2005. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2005/01/10/polar-bear-hunt050110.html. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
    103. “Bear Facts: Harvesting/Hunting”. Polar Bears International. http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/bear-facts/hunting/. Retrieved 14 March 2008.
    104. The Humane Society of the United States “Support the Polar Bear Protection Act”
    105. CBC News, 10 January 2005, “Nunavut hunters can kill more polar bears this year”
    106. CBC News, 4 July 2005, “Rethink polar bear hunt quotas, scientists tell Nunavut hunters”
    107. a b c d e f Stirling, Ian; Derocher, Andrew E. (Fall 2007). “Melting Under Pressure: The Real Scoop on Climate Warming and Polar Bears” (PDF). The Wildlife Professional (Lawrence, Kansas: The Wildlife Society) 1 (3): pp. 24–27, 43. http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/faculty/andrew_derocher/uploads/abstracts/Stirling_Derocher_Wildlife_Professional_PB_climate_2007.pdf. Retrieved 17 November 2007.
    108. a b Taylor, Mitchell K. (6 April 2006) (PDF). Review of CBD Petition. Letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. http://www.ff.org/centers/csspp/pdf/200701_taylor.pdf. Retrieved 8 September 2007.
    109. a b George, Jane (April 2010). “Nunavut hunters still enraged over bear quotas”. http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/8976_nunavut_hunters_still_enraged_over_bear_quotas/. Retrieved 4 April 2010.

  81. Will Crump says:

    Polar Bears Increasing in Gulf of Boothia

    Mitchell Taylor was the lead author of a study of this bear population in 2009 called:

    “Demography and population viability of polar bears in the Gulf of Boothia, Nunavut”

    http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/usdeptcommercepub/196/

    The study used data collected from 1976 though 2000, and made projections of bear population using a model for the period 2000 through 2015. Based on the model, the study found that the bear population was capable of sustaining the increase in the annual harvest to 74 bears with a ratio of 2 males for every female (the rate had been increased from 40 bears). The actual average harvest rate from 2002 to 2007 was 56.4 bears. The maximum sustainable number of bears which could be harvested at the current population size was estimated to be 100 bears, however the study did not recommend using this figure due to uncertainties in the accuracy of the 1976 to 2000 data and the long recovery period required if harvesting quotas were set too high.

    “Our estimates of population growth assume that the environment does vary, but does not assume any time trend or systematic pattern in how it varies. Hence, our projections do not consider habitat deterioration or transient habitat enhancement that could be associated with climate warming for the simulation period 2000 – 2015.”

    Actual surveys of this population of bears have not been done since 2000.

    http://pbsg.npolar.no/en/status/populations/gulf-of-boothia.html

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