IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group out-lived its usefulness 20 years ago

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) should have been disbanded in 1996, the year polar bears were down-graded from a status of ‘vulnerable to extinction’ to ‘lower risk – conservation dependent’ (now called ‘least concern’) on the IUCN Red List.

crystal cruises polar bearsGuest essay by Dr. Susan Crockford, Zoologist

Polar bears had recovered from previous decades of wanton over-hunting — by all measures used by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, they were a conservation success story.

Why did the IUCN and Arctic governments not break up the PBSG back in 1996?

Leaving the group intact once polar bears were down-graded to ‘least concern’ simply made its members desperate to justify their existence. That’s precisely what we’ve seen over the last 20 years — PBSG members working tirelessly to ensure the organization didn’t go extinct.

In fact, polar bears are in no more danger of extinction now than they were in 1996, despite dedicated efforts of the PBSG to convince the world otherwise.

Take a look at the history and see if you come to a different conclusion.

http://polarbearscience.com/2015/01/01/iucn-polar-bear-specialist-group-out-lived-its-usefulness-20-years-ago/

93 thoughts on “IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group out-lived its usefulness 20 years ago

  1. The only thing endangered is the funding for the PBSG and I am sure they will fight to the death to preserve it despite no need

  2. That’s the trouble with succeeding as a specialist conservation group: you cause (or should have caused) your own extinction.

  3. Good article. Thank you.
    It would be interesting to see just exactly how their funding is allocated. Somehow I doubt the bears ever benefitted from it.

    • Agreed. Just look at the TSA and the ridiculous regulations brought about by the so-called “shoe bomber”: although the entire case was thrown out of court, the regulations remain.
      Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.

      • I thought I saw a post from a (maybe not the) Jerry Pournelle here a while back; I know he’s not in the warmist camp.

      • PiperPaul,
        I’ve read a lot but not all of the posts and comments.
        Some time about 2 years ago, one of Jerry’s sons commented on WUWT but it was not his post. He did get some replies because many of us have read both fiction and non-fiction (incl. “Chaos Manor” in Byte mag.) of his dad and Larry Niven.

  4. Susan, not just polar bears…..substitute manatees for polar bears and you have the exact same thing

  5. Amazing a group of 20 to 30 scientists that meets once every three or four years can wield such power. What is the funding, total $30K for a trip to some nice place for their meetings to discuss Polar Bears?

  6. Its a bit like crocodiles in the the North of Australia – WTF would someone *want* to preserve these dangerous top predators? Frankly I’d rather see them hunted to extinction – it would make those regions a lot safer for human inhabitants.

      • They are protected in Aus, just like the pest, the possum. And in Northern Aus we have fresh and salt water crocks, so thats rivers and the beach out of the question for a summer trip, and they don’t particulaly care for the protection humans have awarded them in law. A pre-historic beast that can grown to more than 5 meters in length, has a brain the size of a thumb.
        If you find one chewing your leg off, don’t try defending yourself, you could be arrested.

      • Why is it “difficult” to suggest an annoying pest species should be eradicated?
        I swat mosquitoes without feeling any pangs of conscience, and crocodilespecially are potentially a much worse threat to my life. My favourite local beach was closed recently for a few weeks because of a croc sighting.
        I’d rather be able to enjoy the local amenity, and be free of fear that my little girl might be snatched and killed in front of me, than worry about the or whatever of a dangerous pest.

      • A lot of people just kill any crocodile they find, and don’t talk about it. Here on the southern fringe of their range it doesn’t take much to keep the population under control – but up north its a disaster.
        I suspect the Inuit in the far North of Canada will start taking similar steps, leaving poison bait in bear areas, when the situation gets out of hand. “Sorry guv, wasn’t me…”

      • By far the largest number of shark attacks occur off the coast of South Africa, but you won’t hear that too much in Aussie MSM. As usual, it’s just being hyped out of all proportion by the media here in Australia. There is large opposition to shark culls, bait-hooks etc etc. I tend not to swim in shark infested waters, I also tend not to swin in murky, crock infested rivers, I also would not stuff my finger in a funnelweb spiders’ web. People need to be a little more aware that 10 of the most deadly creatures are indigenous to Australia.
        But yes, more people die in a pub fight over a w/e, or on the roads over holiday periods etc than those taken by sharks or crocks.

      • Streetcred,
        Thanks for the interesting link. Hunting for all would seem to be the best answer, not just for the super wealthy.

      • Patrick, why the animus on harmless freshwater crocodiles? I’ve bathed in the same billabong as freshies on occasion and they invariably retreat to the other end of the billabong when you get in.
        But I checked carefully there were no salties around before bathing.

      • Fresh water crocks (FWC) are NOT harmless to humans, even a baby FWC will practically take your finger off given the chance to bite. It’s just that attacks on humans by FWC crost are rare, but not impossible nor unheard of. It’s all about perspective. Agitate a FWC, say a 3m male adult, and you will receive a nasty bite, may even lose a limb. The order of the day here is; don’t tempt fate! Bit like bears, you may be able to scare off a juvenile, but an adult?

      • ” People need to be a little more aware that 10 of the most deadly creatures are indigenous to Australia.”
        Yet they call it “the lucky Country”……..

    • No need to hunt to extinction, but certainly do not need protection in law. That’s just plain silly!

    • Eric
      I think we should get rid of stairs, first.
      Over 1 Million accidents resulting in injury per year on stairs.
      Stair accidents are the second leading cause of unintended injury,
      There are 12,000 stair deaths per year.
      Half of these deaths occur in the home.
      And that’s just in the USA. So, an easy way to make the USA a lot safer.

      • Getting rid of stairs might be a little tricky in some circumstances 🙂
        Seriously, getting rid of crocs and polar bears could be an easy win. It wouldn’t even cost the government any money – all you have to do is let people hunt them again, the government would actually save money by allowing people to hunt, and by not needing as many wildlife inspectors. Market forces would ensure they were eliminated – the last polar bear fur or croc skin in the world would be utterly priceless.

      • PeterK
        These are God’s creatures and they all deserve to live.

        So, to keep the prey animals alive, all of these higher-level predator animals need to be starved to death, right?
        So isn’t it better to kill them with CAGW first?

  7. Bah. Polar bears are in great danger of extinction. From me! Lucky for them I don’t own a gun. I hate their White Privilege. Always thinking that they can eat black seals and people just because they are white. #Ferguson!!!!
    Haha, just kidding. I live in Louisiana. You’d be surprised how few polar bears there are down here.

  8. Nothing is easier than spending the public money. It does not appear to belong to anybody. The temptation is overwhelming to bestow it on somebody.
    — Calvin Coolidge

  9. Rules of all organisations on Gov’t Teat –
    1/ Ensure own survival. 2/ Grow bigger. 3/ Pay some attention to founding aims.
    Apart from one perhaps urban myth re US Patent Office, no GT Org has said ‘Our job is pretty much done and we should be wound up.’

    • Most people weren’t paying attention, but a scant few years ago CONgress finally repealed a tax, paid on every phone bill, that was passed to finance….wait for it….the Spanish American War.
      20 years? Pikers!

  10. Here’s a comment I made near the end of an earlier polar bear thread:
    I think good rhetorical use could be made of Polar Bear Science as a microcosm of what’s wrong with all of alarmist climate-related science. That’s because it is simple enough to see the falsehoods that have been promoted, and because there is no wiggle room for the falsifiers.
    Most importantly, it could illustrate an unspoken “conspiracy” in action among a fairly small number of experts. (E.g., by excluding an expert from their meetings because he was a CAGW heretic a few years ago.)
    I urge contrarians to press for a congressional panel to request that the NAS conduct an investigation of this microcosm. I also urge them to harp on what’s going on in this research area as a typical and understandable instance of what’s wrong with climatology.

  11. From the link:

    “By 2006, the IUCN had accepted the PBSG’s 2005 opinion that sea ice declines due to predicted human-caused global warming were so dire-sounding that polar bears should be returned to the ‘vulnerable’ classification, even though they were still doing well by all other criteria.”

    My translation:

    All the arctic ice is going to melt so the polar bears should be classified vulnerable now. (in spite of the fact that they are currently in no danger)

    The arctic has been much warmer and probably ice free and yet we still have polar bears.
    Polar Bears…..I hate Polar Bears! (apologies to Indiana Jones)

    • Bob Carter in his lectures/presentations enjoyed (enjoys?) pointing out all the times in the past when polar bears went extinct.

    • We’ve got polar bears at Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Australia … apart from a deep pool, there’s no special environmental management for their enclosure … its sub-tropical and they’re just fine.

      • In the interest of complete fairness …
        The problem is not that they can’t take the heat.
        Polar Bears eat seals. The seals live under the ice. Being mammals, the seals have to maintain holes in the ice through which they can stick their noses (and not much else). The bears hide by the holes and, when the seal’s nose appears, they drag the seal out.
        The theory is that, if the ice disappears, the bears will not be able to hunt. The problem for that theory is that it has been warmer in the past and there was probably much less ice (and yet the bears survived).

        • Ya know then how to catch a polar bear ?
          Cut a hole in the ice. Festoon the perimeter of the ice hole with peas. Wait. When the polar bear comes up for a pea, kick it in the ice hole.
          Ok, weak … but what the hell.

      • The theory fails miserably when you realize polar bears are omnivores. Their favorite meal seems to be seals. To say they are threatened by extinction if they can’t have their favorite food is like saying Mankind would face extinction if rice (or in my case, pizza) could no longer be eaten.

  12. I apologize for being OT, but I believe WUWT readers will be interested to know that RSS for December is out and the streak for a negative slope extends from 18 years and 2 months to 18 years and 3 months. As well, 2014 came in sixth place for RSS.

  13. Thanks, Dr. Crockford. Great post.
    (Also, I would like to help out with Nico’s trip to W. Hudson Bay in 2035 (polarbearscience, 12/25/14). Do you have a method for readers to contribute to that spare change jar?)

    • That’s sweet of you Windsong but here’s another idea: start a similar one for a grand-child/niece/nephew or neighbour child you know and like.
      It amuses me to think of a whole cohort of young people, well schooled as they will be in the realities of polar bear life, descending on Churchill 20 years from now. How’s that for a legacy?
      Susan

      • Exactly, Dr. Susan.
        My wife and kids are “save the planet” folks (hey, so am I), but it is your exposure of the fine and healthy Polar Bears that has allowed me to speak again at the dinner table.

  14. Posted a comment at RealPolarBear, but my comment was sent directly to the ice-hole.
    Excellent post, Dr. Crockford. Thank you.

  15. Dr. Crockford, very nice post, thank you.
    I do think that if the “government” appointed a committee to ensure the survival of the common rabbit (Elmer J. Fudd as Chairman) we might quickly see them dang rabbits disappear. Of course, if the “government” appointed a committee to eliminate rabbits (Australasia comes to mind) them dang rabbits would probably double in number,
    Quiet please, Elmer is hunting rabbits…..
    Cheers, KevinK

    • Wabbits, Kevin, Elmer Fudd hunted wabbits.
      But you bring up a point about govt appointed committees. Committee members and chairmen tend to create little empires around their topic. The IPCC is an example, where Dr Pachauri has set himself and his TERI institute a profitable and hand-in-hand operation.
      The longer one stays in a position to allocate inexhaustible public monies, the more opportunity one comes across to dip into the stream. Has anyone other than the Founding Fathers ever departed Congress or the White House impoverished?
      Mid and upper level managers should be rotated out of their positions every few years to prevent the establishment of fiefdoms, much as done in the military. Even Dr Pachauri isn’t irreplaceable.

  16. Thank You for the polar bear ‘update’, Dr. Crockford!
    Is there a reliable source (or sources) for temporal polar bear population and distribution data around the arctic ocean?

  17. I remember a video by Gavin Schmidt talking about his visit to Churchill to meet with PBSG’s leader Derocher who predicted “by the middle of this century, two-thirds of the polar bears will be gone from their current populations” Gavin started his talk with a picture of a bark beetle and asked his audience which would be a better icon of global warming the beetle or polar bears. Obviously politics has kept the PBSG alive.
    Derocher is not to be trusted in his 2012 paper Derocher wrote “In the mid-1970s and again in the mid-1980s, ringed seal pup productivity plummeted by 80% or more for 2–3 years…. A comparison of the age-specific weights of both male and female polar bears from 1971 to 1973 (productive seal years), to those from 1974 to 1975 (years of seal reproductive failure), demonstrated a significant decline in the latter period.” He did not say that it was heavy spring time ice that had cause the declines for seal and bears ( as discussed http://landscapesandcycles.net/less-arctic-ice-can-be-beneficial.html and http://landscapesandcycles.net/blind-polar-bear-researchers.html ) but Derocher wrote it as if less ice had caused the declines and peer reviewed OK’d the deception.
    It’s all about politics not science

  18. Thank you, Susan, for your contributions here. The importance spans several areas of interest beyond the conservation success of the polar bear populations.
    Somewhat OT from the discussion of polar bears, but the wheels of govt. funding for the so-called “red wolf” salvation continue to be in full swing. I did a bit of research on this several years ago. The “red wolf” is, genetically speaking, simply a hybrid between a coyote and a gray wolf but got the gravy train of govt. grants and gate keeping to keep the program rolling and has so far stayed under the radar. That program would likely be shut down immediately if a proper investigation is conducted. A lot of previous links on the web have been removed over the past few years after I brought the issue up to apparently the wrong people. There are some serious skeletons in the closet related to the so-called “red wolf” reintroduction program. I am waiting for one more nail in the coffin when a certain paper is published in the near future. That should be soon and will be quite embarrassing when it comes out. If anyone gets involved with eliminating wasteful programs I would be happy to assist with regards to eliminating this particular program.

    • OT as well but according to the Red Wolf Recovery Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

      Of the 17 remaining wolves captured by biologists, 14 became the founders of a successful captive breeding program. The founding red wolves had to be a pure bred species, meaning not a mixed breed of wolf and coyote.

      That’s a bureaucrat’s dream. Since coyotes are apparently attracted to ‘red heads’, the only way to preserve the purity of the population of red wolves is to control the population of coyotes… Good luck! That’s permanent job security as long as they can sell it.
      Didn’t someone originally fish the Nature Conservancy in on that scam as well?

      • @ John F. Hultquist
        With regards to your link to the USFWS, Would you agree that the USFWS could be considered incompetent or under the influence of ‘wolf’ activists and govt. funding if that reference could be totally debunked? That reference is no better than that which has been widely distributed by the ‘polar bear’ lobby. Whoever wrote that should be fired.
        You need to do some serious research beyond just picking something off the internet.
        I will stop here as this thread is about polar bears and the bureaucratic funding train related to that. It is on the radar. When the so-called ‘red wolf’ reintroduction program shows up on the radar it will be shut down and the ramifications will be far reaching.

      • Joe,
        There were originally 400-450 captured. When the breeding program began there were several releases in the Cades Cove area of the Smokey Mountains of NC. They seemed to vanish. Then western Virginia and Tennessee developed an overnight issue with coyotes. The interesting thing is that contrary to Hultquist’s post of the USFWS coyotes in VA frequently exceed 50 lbs. and some go as much as 70 lbs.
        Here are some words I probably shouldn’t post at this time, but, what have they been doing with all the puppies from the breeding program? over 25 years of ‘farming’ puppies would generate a lot of offspring. The good question to ask is: what are they doing with the offspring? The answer is not likely to be a truthful one.

      • In order to get this issue on the radar I hope that WUWT will provide an opportunity to air a long running and devastating failure of the follies associated with the funding of anything associated with the Endangered Species Act if you could call it that.

      • eyes,
        I didn’t remember the release in the Smokey Mountains (I was raised in the foothills), just the push by the F.W.S. & Conservancy for the Eastern N.C. swamp release. I have no way of locating it now but also remember an article/new release/paper that came out a couple of years later stating that genetic testing showed that they were just a cross between the Grey and the Coyote.

      • Joe,
        In my earlier comment I brought up the question as to what are they doing with the puppies. The really important question would be what did they do with the 350-400 of the originally captured and not used in the breeding program.
        This entire program has a stench that extends far from the stated program’s goals.

    • The red wolf saga is one of several specifics in the essay No Bodies in Blowing Smoke. It deals more generally with the faulty origins of the AR4 extinction conclusions, and the failure of AR5 to do an appropriate climb down. The polar bear angle merited a separate essay, Polar Bears, precisely because of the especially strong warmunist PR and bad science (including ignoring ‘Southern attraction’ cross breeding with grizzly/browns) that Dr. Crockford highlights for us here.

  19. Clubs, societies and associations should exist by the pleasure of their members. The only thing that should NOT exist for all of them is taxpayer funding or recognized lobbyists.
    The argument against the Polar Bear Guys is about funding, nothing more. In a democracy you can associate as you wish, publish as you wish, stand and shout on soap boxes as you wish. But you can’t – or should’t, anyway – take peoples’ money to do so without their explicit agreement.

    • My understanding is that the PBSG don’t get much in the way of dedicated funds. However, the cost for members of attending meetings, doing reports etc., are picked up by the governments that employ them (since most have government jobs).
      WWF, a long-standing partner of the IUCN – has for many years picked up the tab for publishing their meeting proceedings (which won’t happen anymore, as they have decided simply to post things online).
      One of items on the agenda of their last meeting (discussed here – http://polarbearscience.com/2014/07/01/polar-bear-specialist-group-just-had-another-secret-meeting/ ) was the need to find a source for money to pay for travel expenses for the new members that aren’t government employees.
      Apparently, they didn’t think about that little wrinkle before they appointed these people, expanding the size of the group from ~20 to over 30. It is not clear if Polar Bears International picks up the tab for the PBSG-associated costs of Amstrup (and now Geoff York, who has left WWF and gone to PBI as well).

  20. Thorough, well-documented, intelligent, thoughtful article (via the link in post above), Dr. Crockford. Thank you for sharing that WEALTH of potently useful information.
    {Suggestion: @ An-thony — Dr. Crockford’s excellent article merits being published in its own right in WUWT, not just a link — more are likely to read it, I think…}
    ***************************************************************
    Well, lol, if the PBSG hadn’t existed c. 1998, it would have been invented.
    ****************************************************************
    Sc@mmers, Inc.’s Perpetual Paradigm:
    1. Invent a danger.
    2. Manufacture a product to “save” people from it.
    3. Hide the inherent danger of your product to its users.
    4. Get the socialists to pass a law to create a market for your product.
    To wit:
    Sc@mmers, Inc.: SUV’s kill people!!!…… Buy my little Pipsqueak!
    (Aside: heh, heh, and you can be the one to be killed instead.)
    Sc@mmers, Inc. (under new management): Polar bears are DYING!!!…… Buy my windmills and solar panels!
    (Aside: heh, heh, and you can freeze to death… .)

  21. It’s getting all so serious. Some fun for the change. Courtesy of Jason Roberts and Gordon Buchanan, BBC:

    • Thanks for the fun, Mr. Kateenkorva, heh.
      Now, back to the serious issue of pseudo-scien
      :
      :
      :
      {!!POST INTERRUPT — UNKNOWN SOURCE!! CLOSE ALL OPEN PROGRAMS NOW!!}
      Yo! WU doods, listn up. This is Mama Bar, V.P. of Markting for KIC {Keep It Cumming}. Her are the facts:
      — Polr bars are dieing — EVERY DAY.
      — BABY polr bars die — all the time!
      — Polr bars want need mor fud!
      — Rit NOW ther are hungre polr bars. ((‘ o ‘))
      Pitful, isnt it?
      YOU CAN HELP!
      Here how:
      1. Buy BIG bunch salmin or halbt
      or whatevr meet you can scroung up.
      2. Stufft into an elctric car (they smash apart eesly on impact)
      3. Send us yur e mail addrss.
      4. We send u the Lat/Long cordinuts for yur ayr drop.
      3. Drop the car.
      DO NOT BLEVE DR. CROCKFORD — WE POLR BARS KNOW BEST.
      Thankng yu in advanc,
      Mama Bar

      • Thank you sweet Janice for your posts. They are and have always been one of the best antidotes to my chronic cAGW-poisoning. It turns out I spent more than an hour to find and post the suitable BBC clip yesterday, only to realize that you posted in between and became an unintended victim of my symptoms. Apologies.

    • Dear Mr. Kateenkorva,
      How very, VERY kind of you to speak to me so kindly. If you only knew how much I needed THAT antidote to counter the coldness of a certain person in my life … .
      And you didn’t interrupt my posting, not at all. I was trying to be funny (too silly for most, no doubt, heh — thanks for your appreciation!) along WITH YOU.
      #(:)) Way to go, persevering to find that clip. Yeah, sometimes it takes FOREVER to find just the right thing. Thanks again for your efforts!
      Your grateful WUWT pal,
      Janice

  22. Speaking as a seal, I wish it were true that polar bears are dying – they keep eating my friends.

    • lol #(:))
      (found the following stuck under the windshield wiper of my car — grrr)
      *******************************
      Message from Envirowackos for the World:
      PEOPLE kill polar bears. PEOPLE kill seals.
      Polar bears only eat tofu and drink Coke.
      Send us more money.
      We take VISA.
      EW

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