American Elephants

“Unexpectedly”—A Healthy Polar Bear Count! by The Elephant's Child

All those dire warnings about the population decline of polar bears—nevermind. The bear population along the western shore of Hudson Bay are believed to be among the most threatened. but the most recent study counted 1.013 bears and could be even higher.

The study was released Wednesday by the Government of Nunavut. This is 66 percent higher than estimates from other forecasters who expected that numbers would fall to as low as 610 because of warming temperatures that melt ice faster and ruin bears’ ability to hunt. The Hudson Bay region which straddles Nunavut and Manitoba is considered a bellwether for how polar bears are doing in the Arctic.

The survey in 2009 and 2010 late summer flew more than 300 hours and 40,000 km during each year’s survey, and observed 816–1,003 individuals. It is a seasonally ice-free population, so I assume they can see the bears better. This would seem to be a better methodology than say, seeing three drowned polar bears at sea after a storm and then extrapolating that to an entire population as one now discredited and disgraced researcher did.  See “Republicans Don’t believe in Science…” below.

Population figures are used to calculate quotas for hunting, an important industry for many northern communities.  Hunting is highly regulated, but Inuit communities can sell their quotas to sport hunters who must hunt with Inuit guides. A polar bear hunting trip can cost up to $50,000.

(click to enlarge)
(h/t: Watts Up With That)

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