This interesting article shows the information and perception gap between scientists that do helicopter surveys of polar bears and the native people who co-exist in their presence.
In a news release issued after its conference last July, the PBSG concluded that only one of 19 total polar bear subpopulations is currently increasing, three are stable and eight are declining. Data was insufficient to determine numbers for the remaining seven subpopulations. The group estimated that the total number of polar bears is somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000. (Estimates of the population during the 1950s and 1960s, before harvest quotas were enacted, range from 5,000 to 10,000.)
Not so fast. According to a U.S. Senate and Public Works Committee report, the “alarm about the future of polar bear decline is based on speculative computer model predictions many decades in the future. Those predictions are being “challenged by scientists and forecasting experts,” said the report.
Those challenges, supported by facts on the ground, including observations from Inuit hunters in the region, haven’t stopped climate fear-mongers at the U.S. Geological Survey from proclaiming that future sea ice conditions “will result in the loss of approximately two-thirds of the world’s current polar bear population by the mid 21st century.”
Harry Flaherty, chair of the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board in the capital of Iqaluit, says the polar bear population in the region, along the Davis Strait, has doubled during the past 10 years. He questions the official figures, which are based to a large extent on helicopter surveys.
“Scientists do a quick study one to two weeks in a helicopter, and don’t see all the polar bears. We’re getting totally different stories [about the bear numbers] on a daily basis from hunters and harvesters on the ground,” he says.
The growing population has become “a real problem,” especially over the last 10 years, he says. During the summer and fall, families enjoying outdoor activities must be on the look-out for bears. Many locals invite along other hunters for protection.
Last year, in Pelly Bay, all the bears that were captured were caught in town, Nirlungayuk says. “You now have polar bears coming into towns, getting into cabins, breaking property and just creating havoc for people up here,” he says.
Flaherty and many others disagree with the official story. “We are aware there are changes in the weather, but it is not affecting the daily life of the animals,” he says. “Polar bears hunt in the floe-edge areas, on newly formed ice, and in the fiords in search of baby seals. They don’t hunt in the glaciers [areas of multi-year ice].
“We’re not seeing negative effects on the polar bear population from so-called climate change and receding ice,” he says. He is convinced that some scientists are deliberately “using the polar bear issue to scare people” about global warming, a view widely shared by many Nunavut locals.
Read the entire article here, it is quite enlightening