Fact Check: Polar Bears Breaking Through Thin Ice is Not Evidence of Climate Change, It’s a Drone Chase

From Polar Bear Science

Susan Crockford

This morning, self-professed ‘climate campaigner’ Mike Hudema posted a short video of two polar bears seemingly struggling to survive as they repeatedly break through newly-formed ice, with the message “Polar bears are up against a huge problem. They are losing their habitat. As the Arctic becomes increasingly warm & sea ice disappears its harder to find a mate & food.

This was clearly designed to elicit an emotional response from viewers but it’s every bit as manipulative and false as the video of the emaciated polar bear shamelessly promoted by National Geographic as ‘what climate change looks like’, which I describe in detail in my new book, Fallen Icon (Crockford 2022a).

The truth is that these bears were not struggling to survive: they were chasing a drone. The original video (2:55m long) was posted by ‘LADBible’ on 18 January 2020, which took me all of 30 seconds to locate via an Internet search. The title of the original video is Polar Bears Chase Drone Camera Through Ice (2:55m) and the description is: “When these polar bears discovered a drone was watching them, they decided to give chase through the ice.”

Hudema truncated the video down to 25 seconds for his tweet. He was being deliberately dishonest by posting this footage with his message: the entire thing is a falsehood.

While there are implausible predictions that polar bears may in the future struggle to survive due to declining sea ice (e.g. Amstrup et al. 2007), polar bears are currently thriving (Crockford 2019, 2022b). One reason they are thriving is that a longer open-water season at the end of summer allows more phytoplankton growth, which means more food for the entire Arctic food chain, including polar bears (Crockford 2020).

In other words, contrary to predictions, areas where recent summer sea ice loss has been the greatest (especially the Barents Sea and Chukchi Sea), polar bears are doing better than expected, and better than they were when sea ice coverage was greater (Lippold et al. 2020; Rode et al. 2018).

Hudema is blatantly wrong as well as dishonest: scientific facts do not back up his assertions. Just more evidence that these climate activists will stop at nothing to promote their ludicrous agenda and groundless beliefs.

PS. Here is a similar video (from December 2019) of Russian polar bear cubs playing on thin ice, as they learn how to deal with an ever-present aspect of their environment:


Amstrup, S.C., Marcot, B.G. & Douglas, D.C. 2007. Forecasting the rangewide status of polar bears at selected times in the 21st century. US Geological Survey. Reston, VA. Pdf here

Crockford, S.J. 2019The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened. Global Warming Policy Foundation, London. Available in paperback and ebook formats.

Crockford, S.J. 2020. State of the Polar Bear Report 2019. Global Warming Policy Foundation Report 39, London. pdf here.

Crockford, S.J. 2022a. Fallen Icon: Sir David Attenborough and the Walrus Deception. Amazon KDP.

Crockford, S.J. 2022b. The State of the Polar Bear 2021. Global Warming Policy Foundation Note 29, London. pdf here.

Lippold, A., Bourgeon, S., Aars, J., Andersen, M., Polder, A., Lyche, J.L., Bytingsvik, J., Jenssen, B.M., Derocher, A.E., Welker, J.M. and Routti, H. 2019. Temporal trends of persistent organic pollutants in Barents Sea polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in relation to changes in feeding habits and body condition. Environmental Science and Technology 53(2):984-995.

Rode, K. D., R. R. Wilson, D. C. Douglas, V. Muhlenbruch, T.C. Atwood, E. V. Regehr, E.S. Richardson, N.W. Pilfold, A.E. Derocher, G.M Durner, I. Stirling, S.C. Amstrup, M. S. Martin, A.M. Pagano, and K. Simac. 2018. Spring fasting behavior in a marine apex predator provides an index of ecosystem productivity. Global Change Biology 24:410-423. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.13933/full

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September 5, 2022 6:04 am

Those Polar Bear cubs were having a blast!

Tom Halla
Reply to  Graemethecat
September 5, 2022 6:10 am

The bear in the lead reminded me of a Golden Retriever I had that loved to go swimming.

Reply to  Graemethecat
September 5, 2022 1:51 pm

And at one point, when they got out of the water onto thin ice, they stayed on their bellies, thus spreading the load, until they reached thicker ice. How smart is that!

September 5, 2022 6:12 am

The 2022 Arctic Ice Extent is currently around the 14th lowest since 1979 and the Sumer minimum will be over 1 million KM^2 larger the record low..
According to the CAGW catastrophists, the Arctic Summer Minimum should already  be “ice free” by now…. Not so much…
When will people stop believing these idiotic Leftist CAGW charlatans.. 

Old Man Winter
Reply to  SAMURAI
September 5, 2022 10:01 am

With the higher Arctic ice extent, fewer W US wildfires & the Rio Grande
River not cooperating, the Warmunistas are having to resort to outright lies
for their scary fairy tales. If the Atlantic hurricane season stays quiet, I’d
expect them to see complete fabrications there, too. It’s such a waste of
time for real scientists like Susan to have to debunk this total $%$#%@!!!



Reply to  Old Man Winter
September 5, 2022 12:16 pm

I was down by the Rio Grande river in Albuquerque this morning. The river is running high and has been for a while. The diversion channels for irrigation are also running high.

Coeur de Lion
Reply to  SAMURAI
September 5, 2022 10:08 pm

It may bottom out above five Wadhams for the first time since 2007

September 5, 2022 6:15 am

When ya got nothing, ya go with the “baffle ’em with bullsh*t” shtick. Hudema needs to change occupations, or something, he’s not very good at the present one. Its obvious that the bears would just like to get a closer look at that strange “bird” they are chasing. Might be tasty.
Anyway, I loved watching ’em follow it across the ice, until the attention span waned.

September 5, 2022 6:18 am

It’s as if they believe the Arctic has always had thick sea ice. Wrong!

Mr David Guy-Johnson
September 5, 2022 6:40 am

I hope he’s been called out on his lies

Reply to  Mr David Guy-Johnson
September 5, 2022 6:45 am

He never interacts with anyone on Twitter that is not from his cult, never apologizes. He is basically a grifter that found his call on “climate crisis” to make money and have sucess in life. Without it he is a poor empty shell.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Mr David Guy-Johnson
September 6, 2022 6:05 am

I’ve checked his Twitter feed and he’s getting severely ratioed.  Stats claim there are over 1,000 likes, but looking at the comments doesn’t seem to support that.

September 5, 2022 6:52 am

“…to survive as they repeatedly break through newly-formed ice, with the message “Polar bears are up against a huge problem. They are losing their habitat. As the Arctic becomes increasingly warm & sea ice disappears its harder to find a mate & food.”

Or ice is new forming or it disappears
both is not possible.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 5, 2022 10:19 am

“Polar bears are up against a huge problem”- NOT!!!

They survived lower ice levels twice before (possibly even “ice free”) during
the Eemian & Holocene Optimum. It’s a totally manufactured nothing burger!

Reply to  Old Man Winter
September 5, 2022 3:26 pm

I used the citation to contradict 😀

Pete Bonk
September 5, 2022 7:02 am

An honest portrayal of what the bears were doing would have allowed the bear to attack the drone; 99.44% sure that’s what the bears would have done, with a good lunge or swat, given the chance. Also, I think hassling wildlife is frowned upon in most jurisdictions. Arrogant Science is not a good look.

Reply to  Pete Bonk
September 5, 2022 9:43 am

Harrassing wildlife is against the law, as far as I am aware, in all states and could even get your dog killed if it harrasses wildlife. Here’s the statute for Alaska where the video was probably taken.

AS § 03.55.030
This Alaska statute provides that any dog that habitually annoys any wild deer, reindeer, sheep, cattle, horse, or other animal or bird either domestic or wild, or evinces a disposition which makes it likely that it will without provocation bite an animal or fowl, may be lawfully killed by any person when it is found at large. …

I think it would have been a service to the bears if someone killed the drone.

Here’s the federal statute:

36 CFR § 2.2 – Wildlife protection

§ 2.2 Wildlife protection.

(a) The following are prohibited:
(1) The taking of wildlife, except by authorized hunting and trapping activities conducted in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section.
(2) The feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentional disturbing of wildlife nesting, breeding or other activities.
(3) Possessing unlawfully taken wildlife or portions thereof.

John in Oz
Reply to  Brad-DXT
September 5, 2022 5:43 pm

Is it the drone or the operator that is harassing the bears.

Are both subject to the final sentence of your quoted law?

Reply to  John in Oz
September 5, 2022 9:48 pm

If a game warden or some other DNR personel were there, the drone, possibly his gear, and vehicle would have been confisgated along with getting fined. He might even get time in jail.
I’m not too up on wardens in Alaska but the ones by me generally are quite protective of wildlife. They also get a cut of the fines, to fund their efforts don’t cha know.

Bill Rocks
Reply to  Pete Bonk
September 6, 2022 3:21 pm

Alaska, USA, 1991. The Marine Mammal Protection Act provides polar bears with certain protections. It is against the law to “… harass, hunt, capture, or kill …” a polar bear or to attempt to do any of these things. Approaching a bear for any reason, even to view or photograph it, is against the law and subject to fine.

September 5, 2022 7:24 am

They believe they’re right and that the ends justify the means….

September 5, 2022 7:37 am

“blatantly wrong as well as dishonest”

That is the perfect description of global warming alarmists.

September 5, 2022 8:29 am

I still can’t figure out why polar bears are such good swimmers.
Do they float easily because of so much blubber?
Any predator that can run fast, swim well and climb trees (assume they are like black bears) scares me.

Reply to  Richard Greene
September 5, 2022 9:15 am

Not to mention absolutely fearless. What other wild animal would not flee from a buzzing drone?

Richard Page
Reply to  Charles Rotter
September 5, 2022 9:45 am

They are apex predators in their own environment, not a lot they need be afraid of.

Reply to  Richard Page
September 5, 2022 10:20 am

Do Orcas snack on polar bears?

Reply to  MarkW
September 5, 2022 11:10 am

Orcas have been known to kill polar bear cubs like they would a seal but a mature polar bear is a formidable opponent and Orcas are smart.

By the way, polar bears also attack and feed on whales so size doesn’t deter them.

Reply to  Brad-DXT
September 5, 2022 1:04 pm

Do they kill whales, or just feast on carcasses that float ashore?

I was thinking that if the orca attacked from behind and below, they could take a bite, then wait for the bear to bleed to death.

Reply to  MarkW
September 5, 2022 1:57 pm

Maybe they do feed on polar bears. Not sure how much research has been done on orca scat at the bottom of the ocean.

Richard Page
Reply to  MarkW
September 5, 2022 4:37 pm

Polar Bears have been spotted actively hunting a young Beluga Whale and both Orca’s and Polar Bears hunt seals, however there is no evidence that the 2 attack or hunt each other. An immature Polar Bear jaw has been found in a Greenland Shark’s stomach but that seems to be the only evidence for Polar Bear’s being attacked by other animals.

Reply to  MarkW
September 5, 2022 10:10 pm

Whales like Belugas gather at polynyas to breathe while the ice cover is thick. Polar bears take advantage of the situation and attack and sometimes kill. They will also feed on carcasses when available.

As far as I know, there is no reporting of a mature polar bear getting attacked by Orcas or sharks.
Polar bears are fast and powerful. Any other predator would figure that out pretty quick. I suppose it could happen like you said but there’s no proof.

Richard Page
Reply to  MarkW
September 5, 2022 4:30 pm

They only try it once!

Reply to  Charles Rotter
September 5, 2022 9:58 am

Well, they are on the top of the food chain so are not accustomed to any animal that would not run off in fear so they wanted to investigate.

Either that or they wanted to chomp on the drone’s batteries to get some lithium – to relieve anxiety over climate change. 😉

(Do the shrinks still prescribe lithium for anxiety and/or depression?)

Reply to  Richard Greene
September 5, 2022 10:03 am

I had English Springer Spaniels and they would swim for hours and miles. When they chose to utilize the river bank and fell behind the canoe they would hit the water to catch up and if I didn’t call them aboard they would continue in front of me. The first couple of years I worked those dogs on the river I had a difficult time trying to understand. I was a slow learner but finally got there. 35 years with 4 dogs on the river and now working with a new pup! And by the way they were lean.

Reply to  Richard Greene
September 5, 2022 10:11 am

The blubber helps with bouyancy and the large feet provide propulsion. Their feet are something like 1 foot wide to spread their weight out over snow and work well as paddles in the water.
I think polar bears don’t have much opportunity to climb trees because there aren’t many in their normal habitat so if you’re running away from one, don’t count on climbing one either.😮

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Brad-DXT
September 5, 2022 7:19 pm

You just have to run faster than the person you are with, not faster than the bear.
Rule of thumb, always do Polar bear research with an obese partner.

Reply to  Richard Greene
September 5, 2022 2:29 pm

They are well designed to live in the region as their species name is Ursus maritimus

Hans Erren
September 5, 2022 8:50 am

Full footage on youtube https://youtu.be/9JR6qfexYWc

Reply to  Hans Erren
September 7, 2022 7:54 am

That was clearly a drone chase. Great video but clearly ‘baiting’ the bear.

September 5, 2022 10:04 am

“He graduated from the University of Alberta with a bachelor of education, majoring in drama, and a bachelor of law degree, specializing in labour and environmental law.”

If you can’t trust a Drama major for your science, who can you trust?

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  ToddF
September 5, 2022 7:15 pm

Takes his cue from failed drama teacher Trudeau.

Morons of a feather stupid together

September 5, 2022 10:16 am

It’s encouraging and quite predictable, that the climate alarmists have to manufacture the evidence that they need to prove their case.

If they had actual evidence, they would use it.

September 5, 2022 10:26 am

Polar bears swimming represents a “struggle”. So if we see a dolphin swimming, is that a “struggle” too? Or if we see a bird flying, or a cheetah running, or a kangaroo hopping, is that also a “struggle”?

MM from Canada
September 5, 2022 11:55 am

“…a short video of two polar bears seemingly struggling to survive as they repeatedly break through newly-formed ice…”
If people knew that the longest polar bear swim recorded is 426 MILES, they would see through this nonsense.

Climate believer
September 5, 2022 12:05 pm

I presume twitter immediately labeled this fake news and deleted his account. /sarc

Good catch Dr Crockford.

James F. Evans
September 5, 2022 4:23 pm

It’s bad when they hold up Polar Bears as a symbol.

When Polar Bears by all objective measures are doing fine.

And, what do they want?

Scarcity… and then the power to ration… and control.

Pat from kerbob
September 5, 2022 7:14 pm

I look at it as the Scientologists are the ones on thin ice.

This guy should be charged with a crime. Same as the people that produced that awful fake video of polar bears crashing to earth as a bloody mess.
That should be charged as a crime against children and terminally stupid adults.

How about a little attribution science in reverse?
Start tying suicide deaths and people dropping out of school and of life to climate emergency porn?

There is certainly a far greater correlation there than in any climate Scientology?

Walter Sobchak
September 5, 2022 7:26 pm

Ursus maritimus (The “sea bear”)is not supposed to be in the water?

September 5, 2022 8:23 pm

Susan, where did he post the video and comment? Doesn’t that site require any standard? Or can you post any old lie you want. Lying and cheating are not acceptable, this needs to stop.

Gerald Machnee
Reply to  Bob
September 5, 2022 9:36 pm

Twitter does not police that type of lying.

September 5, 2022 9:22 pm

I wonder what other propaganda techniques Mike knows and will use next.

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