Alarm bells go off in ‘the world capital’ of polar bears due to their rapid disappearance


Dec 25, 2022 22:52 GMT

After surveying western Hudson Bay from the air in 2021, the researchers estimated the population of these plantigrades to be 618, up from 842 in 2016.

The polar bear population of western Canada’s Hudson Bay, the ‘capital of the world’ for this species, located in the southern tip of the arcticcontinues to decline at a worrying rate, according to a new Canadian government study, reports CTV News.

After surveying western Hudson Bay from the air in 2021, the researchers estimated the population of these plantigrades to be 618while in 2016 there were 842. In other words, its population has fallen by 27% in just five years and approximately in 50% compared to the 1980s.

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“The actual decline is much older than I would have expected,” admits Andrew Derocher, a University of Alberta biology professor who has studied Hudson Bay polar bears for nearly four decades. aforementioned by local media.

The polar bears rely on sea ice for hunting, settling near holes in the thick ice to spot seals, their favorite food, as they emerge for air. But with the Arctic now warming several times faster than the rest of the world due to climate change, sea ice cracks early in the year and takes longer to freeze in the fallcollect Reuters.

This circumstance has left many polar bears living in the Arctic with less ice in which to live, hunt, and breed.

“What has driven the decline is the reduced number of young and adult female bears“, says biologist Stephen Atkinson, who led the research. Meanwhile, the number of adult males has remained “more or less the same.”

The problem is that young bears need energy to grow and cannot survive for long periods without enough food. Thus, the reproductive capacity of polar bears in western Hudson Bay will decrease, according to Atkinson, since there will be “fewer young bears surviving to become adults.”

Derocher, for his part, estimates that the data obtained by the researchers reflect “problems about the viability” of the species, since immature individuals are “the reproductive engine of the population“.

In parallel, the government warns that global warming may reduce the amount of habitat available to bears, which, on the other hand, are very susceptible to the accumulation of high levels of various environmental pollutants.

To date, the Canadian polar bear population is estimated to be between 14,000 and 16,000 copies. Harvest restrictions were first imposed in the 1960s, and since then the polar bear has been a nationally and internationally endangered species, creating additional conservation pressure. Canada spends approximately $1.7 million per year monitoring this species.

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