Wildlife

Polar bear numbers – we need to be cautious

The results of recent studies have showed great news: in certain areas, polar bear numbers are on the rise. Up until this point scientists and experts have thought that the polar bear population in certain regions of Canada have been on the decline, and while this is sadly true in many regions, recent studies show that the Kane Basin subpopulations are actually on the up. This comes as a very pleasant surprise despite the decline of the Arctic sea ice, and the numbers are thought to be fairly stable. This is the first study in 20 years and the predicted population decline was largely due to the melting sea ice, which polar bears rely on. It’s thought that the Kane Basin population is increasing and stable, and that there are now 2,826 polar bears in the region, reported City News.

However, although polar bears are thriving in certain areas, the situation is dismal in others. The Baffin Bay area has experienced a huge decline in sea ice which has meant that bears are moving further north in all seasons. And some don’t make it. In late 2017, a National Geographic photographer posted a video of a starving, dying  polar bear he filmed in Baffin Island. The video went viral on Instagram and was picked up by media including CTV News.

Studies of the Baffin Bay population have shown a decrease in body condition, that the cub population is decreasing, and that female bears are having to swim for much longer and much further. The report also showed that pregnant females are spending less time in their maternity dens and that fewer cubs are making it past their first year, which is alarming.

This video is a glimpse of what will likely happen to the polar bear and other species if the Earth continues to warm. It’s a reminder that we need to continue with efforts to preserve our environment and reduce our emissions that contribute to the warming of our planet, and in turn, the destruction of the polar bear’s environment. As David Miller of WWF-Canada noted, “Climate change will continue to have a significant impact on the quality and availability of their habitat. Sea ice is vital for polar bears.”

What we can do to help preserve the polar bear population, according to Polar Bears International

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the melting of the sea ice. Small changes to your daily routine can make a huge difference to reduce your footprint.
  • Vote for political representatives who advocate environmental conservation and recognize the importance of sustainability.
  • Speak up and help to raise awareness of issues such as the melting ice caps in your community and among peers.

What actions do you take to help preserve our planet?

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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