Fat polar bears [and lots of them] drive public confidence in future of the species

From Polar Bear Science

What is causing the death of the polar bear as a climate change icon? Fat bears are part of it, but mostly it’s the fact that polar bear numbers haven’t declined as predicted.

Western Hudson Bay polar bears around Churchill, Manitoba appear mostly in good shape this summer despite the very late freeze-up last fall, including the very fat bear caught on camera below (see more great pictures here):

Churchill_PolarBears_FAT bear post_21 Aug 2017

Not only have we been seeing pictures of fat bears rather than starving bears in recent years but there are lots of them, in Western Hudson Bay and other seasonal sea ice regions where there should be none (if the models had been correct). No wonder polar bears are falling out of favour as an icon for catastrophic human-caused global warming.

[Here’s another picture of a fat bear, this one from Svalbard]


Excuses for why the public is no longer worried about the future of polar bears include a recent claim by climate scientist Michael Mann that “by making polar bears and penguins the poster child for climate change, we have wrongly conveyed that this is some exotic problem far off.

But none of these apologists acknowledge the simple truth: the models that  predicted catastrophe for polar bears due to diminished summer sea ice turned out to be wrong. The sea ice declined but polar bears flourished. Polar bears in seasonal sea ice ecoregions like Western Hudson Bay and Baffin Bay didn’t die off due to climate change as people were told would happen — why should they believe any of the other scare stories?

In and around Churchill, where tourists flock to see Western Hudson Bay polar bears up close and personal, one bear in good condition recently ran through town:


Overall, there have been fewer problems or conflicts this year in Churchill compared to last (after 6 weeks of onshore living), see below.

Polar bears are no longer a useful global warming icon because they are thriving despite diminished sea ice: Churchill area polar bears are a good example.


Read the rest of the story here.


79 thoughts on “Fat polar bears [and lots of them] drive public confidence in future of the species

      • ..and in the article they admit that berries make them put on weight faster
        They’re not stupid….cold freezing water..or sit in the sun and eat berries

      • I saw the article, too, and noticed something odd. The writer is reporting about what happened in 2014. Well, I thought I would look at the temperatures in Kodiak, AK, in July, 2014, and sure enough, the average for the month was 2 degrees C higher than normal. The I looked at THIS July’s temperature. Yeah, 1.3 degrees C BELOW normal. Climate change? Nah, just weather, and a lazy reporter who didn’t bother to do simple research.
        Past weather Kodiak – july 2014
        Average high temperature: 63.5°F (normal: 60°F)
        Average low temperature: 50.5°F (normal: 49°F)
        Average temperature: 57°F (normal: 55°F)
        Total Precipitation: 2.58 inch (normal: 4.92 inch)
        Total snowfall: 0 inch
        Kodiak – july 2017
        Average high temperature: 58.3°F (normal: 60°F)
        Average low temperature: 49.1°F (normal: 49°F)
        Average temperature: 53.7°F (normal: 55°F)
        Total Precipitation: 3.76 inch (normal: 4.92 inch)
        Total snowfall: 0 inch

      • Jtom,
        Good find.
        But you have failed to grok “climate change” consciousness.
        All that matters is that humans have increased evil CO2, and only bad things result therefrom.

      • Bears are very fond of berries and always have been. There is an old childrens song in Sweden “Mors lilla Olle” about a small boy who encounters a bear in the forest and feeds him with blueberries he (the boy that is) has picked. It actually did happen back in the nineteenth century. Of course that was a Brown Bear, I wouldn’t care to try it with a Grizzly.
        Even polar bears eat berries, particularly cloudberries. Note that berries are a plants’ way to disperse seeds. If nobody ate them they wouldn’t exist.

        • Grizzly bears and Brown bears are the same, with Grizzly being more the US name for the species.

      • TThey are different subspecies and considerably different behaviorally. The European Brown Bear Ursus arctos arctos is very shy and virtually never attacks humans without strong provocation.

    • They are obese , unhealthy and it’s all our fault
      Because we’ve made all of the ice melt they can no longer hunt as they would do in natural surrounds and are forced to scavenge in the bins around human towns , eating stale burgers from MacDonalds.
      It’s worse than we thought.

      • Don’t joke, polar/black/brown bears are natural scavengers. Even with ideal conditions, a stationary target (burger) is always easier vs. moving target (seal). Wouldn’t you? Don’t see many homeless people walking around with bows & arrows stalking on the hunt, let alone with their bare hands.

      • a stationary target (burger) is always easier vs. moving target (seal).

        Seal pups (newborns), which are the primary food source of Polar Bears, …… are only “moving targets” whenever the female seal gives birth to the pups underneath the snowpack that has accumulated on top of sea surface ice.
        When the seal pup realizes that a Polar Bear is “breaking” through the snowpack above its birthing chamber …….. it will “quickly move” to and dive through the access hole in the surface ice to escape.
        But when there is no sea surface ice, ….. then there is no snowpack on said ice, …… then the pregnant female seals are forced to come ashore to birth their pups ……. which makes both the birthing/nursing mother and her pup an “easy target” for hungry Polar Bears ……. and thus the PBs have become “fat and lazy” and their populations are increasing.

      • Samuel, you might be talking about Harbor seals (who can swim soon after birth), Harp seals cannot swim until 7-8 weeks old. Harp seals only breed on ice and spend very little time on land (I cannot find any reference to them birthing on land). As there is still lots of ice in the Arctic, why would they be birthing on land? Lastly, the common ‘suggestion’ is lack of ice is bad for polar bears, by your suggestion, no ice is good for polar bears?

      • Duncan, ….. me thinks you are stuck in an endless “loop” of circular reasoning.
        Anyway, please tell me, ….. just where will all of those female Harp seals be birthing and nursing their pups iffen all the ice in the Arctic melts?
        Do ya pose that the male Harp seals will help the females to construct “floating” rafts for birthing purposes?
        Or will all of those female Harp seals just refuse to become pregnant by refusing to engage in physical sex with the male Harp seals?

    • Well duh! That’s when they’re fattened to go into their dens. The bear in the picture is probably pregnant. They don’t eat for four to eight months depending where they live. link When they emerge they’re dirty yellow, scrawny, very grumpy and extremely dangerous.

    • Yes, extrapolating 50 years hence based on one sighting of a dead bear from a commercial flight was always going to be a bit difficult.

      • First of all – the scientists are probably wrong about the problems the polar bears will have due to global warming. The polar bears survived the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) which was probably pretty ice free. link
        I’ve worked in close proximity to polar bear scientists, especially Ian Stirling, and their technicians. These people are first rate. They really do know everything about polar bears, their diets, their sex lives, their psychology, you name it. When they say that polar bears, as they know them, could not survive a much less icy arctic they are probably right. How then did the polar bears survive the MWP? The scientists will tell you that the MWP couldn’t have been ice free because the bears wouldn’t have survived. Well, how about the possibility that the bears adapted and started behaving in ways that the scientists haven’t observed? How about the possibility that the environment changed in ways that benefited the polar bears? Sadly, when I was going to the arctic, global warming wasn’t a thing and I didn’t ask those questions.

      • Commiebob,
        Look up the Feeding habit of Polar Bears, to see why No Summer ice conditions in the Arctic matters that much.
        Meanwhile here is a paper from the 1970’s showing evidence of little to no Summer Ice in the Arctic:
        Birds and Climatic Change
        Kenneth Williamson (1975) Birds and Climatic Change, Bird Study, 22:3,143-164, DOI: 10.1080/00063657509476459
        Between 1000 and 1300 average summer temperatures were about 1°C higher than today, with the mean annual temperature higher by perhaps 4°C in a largely ice-free Arctic. Eric the Red, a renowned world citizen of that time, has
        been much maligned as the first progressive publicity man for giving Greenland a false image in order to attract settlers; but in truth, the southwest of that vast country was warmer and greener by far than at any time until the Fieldfares Turdus pilaris arrived there in the mid-1930s. The sea-temperature of the Atlantic
        was higher than it has been since, and there appears to have been none or very little ice to hinder the Vikings’ communications between Iceland, Greenland,Newfoundland and Labrador (Mowat 1965). Indeed Brooks (1926) considers thatthe polar ice-cap may have disappeared entirely during the summer months, tobuild anew each winter.”

      • Polar bear science.com had a good explanation. The polar bears eat most of the years food in the spring as the ice retreats. It matters little if the minimum for the year is a record low.

      • So askith: commieBob

        I’ve worked in close proximity to polar bear scientists, especially Ian Stirling, and their technicians. These people are first rate. They really do know everything about polar bears, their diets, their sex lives, their psychology, you name it. When they say that polar bears, as they know them, could not survive a much less icy arctic they are probably right.
        How then did the polar bears survive the MWP?

        Me thinks it is a serious mistake for anyone to permit themselves to be “bedazzled n’ amazed” by others touting their Degree status and/or expertise in/of a subject matter ……. rather than said person relying on their own personal attributes of common sense thinking, logical reasoning and intelligent deductions.
        “DUH”, the literal fact that the Polar bears did survive the MWP is sufficient “common-sense-thinking” evidence that NEGATES …… Ian Stirling et el’s silly claim that PBs “could not survive a much less icy arctic”.
        And thus the other literal fact is, Ian Stirling et el really don’t know everything about polar bears.

  1. Isn’t polar bear survival (or better put, nutritional health) more closely tied into late spring ice levels rather than the normal ice metric of Summer Minimum? I think I remember Susan Crockford stating that it is too much ice in late spring that causes poor nutritional health. This of course is contrary to the Alarmists narrative.

    • Polar bears need landfast ice in the spring to feed their cubs and get the moms’ weight up after hibernation. But too much can make it hard on both the bears and their ringed seal prey, whom the bears attack in their snow lairs on the ice, with escape holes into the water.

      • Polar bears need landfast ice in the spring to feed their cubs and get the moms’ weight up after hibernation.

        Me thinks you have the above arse-backward.
        I am positive that it is the female ringed seals that need the “snowpack” covered landfast sea ice for birthing and nursing their newborn pups.
        Female seals CAN NOT birth and nurse their pups in “open” water, …… ya know.

      • Sam,
        I would have thought it was obvious that the reason bears need landfast ice in spring is because that’s where the prey they rely upon at that season are to be found. For them, fatty baby seals are like Power Bars, and the moms feed themselves and the cubs.

      • Sam,
        I would have thought it was obvious that the reason bears need landfast ice in springis because that’s where the prey they rely upon at that season are to be found. For them, fatty baby seals are like Power Bars, and the moms feed themselves and the cubs.

        Iffen that was your bestest example of your “common sense thinking” abilities ….. then I hafta agree with you simply because you apparently have no other conscious “choices”, therefore your ONLY reason was relegated to being your “obvious reason”.
        Getta clue, Polar Bears don’t need landfast ice. The PBs only need access to female seals that are birthing/nursing their newborn pups. It is the pregnant seals that absolutely, positively have a dire need of either landfast ice or rocky shoreline for birthing/nursing purposes.
        “DUH”, iffen the seals birth their pups in “open water” ……. the pup will immediately drown.

    • Also, both are remorseless predators utterly without regard for humanity. However, polar bears, to their credit, don’t lie in order to appear humanitarian.

    • When Al Gore was born, there were at least 7,500 polar bears on the planet. Today only 25,000 remain.

    • The effect would be complete if the Polar Bear could give a sermon on how we should all eat less and only vegetables.

  2. It’s all this warmcold in the arctic due to climate change making the ice growshrink, making all the poley bears thinfat. Plus there are lessmore of them.
    Anyway – we must act now!

  3. Is it true that when Al Gore was born there were around 5000 polar bears and today about 30,000?

      • This is the money shot in case you miss it.

        The current scientific consensus places the worldwide polar bear population between 20,000 and 25,000 animals. Prior to the 1973 worldwide restriction on commerical polar bear hunting, that number was dramatically lower, so low that a meeting of polar bear specialists in 1965 concluded that extinction was a real possibility. Some reports even estimated the number of bears as low as 5,000 worldwide. Yet by 1990, Ian Stirling — at the time, the senior research scientist for the Canadian Wildlife Service and a professor of zoology at the University of Alberta; basically, one of the most respected polar bear scientists on the planet — felt comfortable answering the question as to whether polar bears are an endangered species by stating flatly: “They are not.” He went on to say that “the world population of polar bears is certainly greater than 20,000 and could be as high as 40,000

      • Duncan, the primary reason that the Polar Bear population “count” increased dramatically post-1980 is the fact that the PB “counters” started using airplanes to scan every square mile of the Polar Bear’s habitat.
        Thus, no more guesses or estimates, but actual numbers.

      • Samuel, aerial surveys started early 70’s. Are the counts better now, sure, but to miss 20,000 animals, hard to say. Accuracy could always be argued but since the 80’s, numbers are increasing regardless.

        Thor: Back then, there were no satellite collars, and we didn’t use helicopters. When we started to look into denning areas, we did aerial surveys by plane of all east Svalbard in 1972 to find out where those denning areas were.


      • “Thus, no more guesses or estimates, but actual numbers.”
        On the other hand there are many reports that polar bears ashore have now learned to hide when they hear aircraft. A lot of them have been tranquilized by researchers and apparently they didn’t enjoy the experience.

      • @ Duncan – August 26, 2017 at 7:28 am

        Samuel, aerial surveys started early 70’s.

        Please pay attention, your quoted reference specifically denotes “aerial surveys of (female) denning areas”, ……… NOT aerial surveys for PB populating counting.
        And Duncan, in reference to your posted graphic denoting the INCREASE in “Global Polar Bear Population Estimates Since Summer Sea Ice Loss Began in Earnest”, …… please take notice that “SURPRISE, SURPRISE”, …… whenever there is a marked decrease in “snowpack” covered sea ice, the Polar Bears are doubly happy and thus their populations are increasing.
        First of all, it either forces the concentration of “birthing” female seals on the remaining pack ice …… or it forces the “birthing” female seals to come ashore.
        So, the answer to the PB’s question of ….. “Guess who is coming to be our dinner”, is to wit:
        In either case, it means ……. “dinner is being served to the PBs” ….. because the female seals and their pups become easily (easier) caught prey of the predator Polar Bears.

  4. For some reason, I am reminded of Gilda Radner’s old Saturday Night Live “Emily Littella” routine==>”never mind!”

  5. Will the alarmists announce the recovery of the bears in as loud a manner that they wailed over their predicted demise?
    As is common when the MSM make an error, expect a 3 line retraction at the bottom of page 25+, if at all.
    Good news is ignored as there are so many other disasters they can utilise for their purposes, regardless of the truth.

  6. We should be very concerned about the future of polar bears – they are so fat they are in danger of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and stroke. Let’s face it – these bears are morbidly obese, and at risk of all manner of serious illnesses.
    We need emergency human intervention now, to give the bears daily insulin, low-dose aspirin, statins and blood-pressure-reducing drugs.
    We should also engage WWF to set up large treadmills and keep the bears on a strict protein diet – no more than one radical-enviro per day.

  7. The past was not like the handle of Mann’s hockey stick. For heaven sake. these creatures survived the Holocene Optimum when there was far less Arctic sea ice (possible ice free).
    Climate scientists need to learn about the past. It would teach them a great deal.

    • They also survived the Eemian Interglacial, which was warmer than the Holocene Optimum.
      They evolved in the penultimate glaciation, not the last one, called the Wisconsin in North America. But are still evolving rapidly.

  8. CTM, very nice post. Hope you keep helping AW out. Commented elsewhere (Cliscep) a while ago on this general observation that polar bears were one of the several failed prediction ‘schisms’ rending the warmunist ‘religion’. This one thanks almost singlehandedly to Dr. Susan Crockford, proving one person and one blog can make a big difference in the ‘war’ AW has been generaling.
    Us skeptics need a compendium of others equivalently powerful. I nominate attribution (see guest post you allowed titled ‘Why Models Run Hot’, lack of SLR acceleration (AW allowed guest post ‘SLR, acceleration, and Closure’, and anything else anywhere else that catches your fancy.

  9. I reckon we get FAR MORE HONEST SCIENCE HERE than any source the AGW Hysterics promote as “Science” . This Blog is a God..send.

  10. Those dirty, science-denying polar bears. We set them up; they had it made. And they betrayed us. May they all perish in the coming climate bake-off!

  11. They are becoming obese and, let’s face it, it is because of global warming! If we do not act right now, they will all die from heart attacks.

  12. Old news as polar bears have been increasing their population since “Inconvenient Truth” was released. What’s sad is many people don’t know it and still think polar bears are endangered because of CAGW.

    • True.
      Polar bears have become such nuisances and hazards that the bag limit for both boars and sows should be increased clear across their range.

  13. Polar bears survived a thousand years without ice as recently as 6000 years ago. It looks like the bigger challenge is obesity. Hard to tell if it is the back end of a polar bear or algore in some of those photos.

    • On the other hand a fat Polar Bear is a safe Polar Bear. They are not in the least afraid of humans and apparently consider us as a sort of upright seal. However when not hungry they are harmless. They are rather inquisitive, but they don’t defend a territory and are not at all aggressive.

    • They need to be obese to survive the winter, which sows spend hibernating and nursing, and boars spend wandering the frigid, dark wilderness.

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