New study sounds caution about polar bears

Bears depend on the ice to eat seals, travel around, and reproduce. But in the Arctic, global warming is four times faster than anywhere else in the world. © KEYSTONE/AP/Sean Kilpatrick

Published on 23.12.2022

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Polar bears in northern Canada’s western Hudson Bay are rapidly disappearing. This has been revealed in the latest government report.

Researchers counted 194 bears from late August to early September 2021 while flying over the Churchill region, the gateway to the Arctic in the Canadian province of Manitoba, which declares itself the “polar bear capital.” According to this census, they estimate that there are 618 polar bears in the area.

According to a previous census conducted in 2016, there were an estimated 842 polar bears in the region. “Compared to aerial survey estimates from 2011 and 2016, the abundance of the Hudson’s Bay population may be declining,” the study concludes.

Especially female and cubs

Researchers point out that women and children are particularly affected by this decline.

They note that the reasons for this decline cannot be firmly established. Also, specifically cite movement of animals into neighboring areas or poaching as possible factors.

“The observed declines are consistent with long-term predictions regarding the demographic effects of climate change on polar bears,” they noted.

Addicted to eating ice cream

Bears depend on the ice to eat seals, travel around, and reproduce. But recent studies suggest that in the Arctic, global warming is four times faster than elsewhere in the world.

The polar bear’s habitat is gradually disappearing from the ice sheets. Since the 1980s, summer sea ice has shrunk by nearly 50%, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

According to a report published in Nature Climate Change in 2020, this could mean the virtual extinction of this iconic animal: in the 1980s there were 1,200 individuals.


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