If a polar bear no longer has ice to stand on and must have his “bear kibble” (that’s a real term; more on it soon) airlifted to the Arctic by helicopter, is he still a polar bear? Or is he some sort of zoo-like experiment — a sad but perhaps unavoidable consequence of an era of melting ice and warming climates?
I posed a less-wordy version of that question to Andrew Derocher, a biologist and polar bear expert at the University of Alberta. He recently published a paper outlining several emergency actions that likely will have to be taken soon to save the Arctic bears.
Among Derocher’s scenarios is using helicopters to airdrop food on polar bears as their icy habitat continues to melt — at a cost of $32,000 per day for the “most accessible” bears. (The hope is that such interventions would last days per year, not months).
“It’s a lot better to have some animals in the wild even if they are being supplemented in their food. If we were basically the sole food source for these animals, then we’re going to have some very serious issues. Then it won’t really be a polar bear anymore,” Derocher said on the phone. “It will be a semi-wild, semi-captive, free-ranging carnivore. And it probably wouldn’t do that well even if the ice started to come back” since the bear would become so dependent on the airlifted food that he may forget how to hunt.
(Sigh). It’s really come to this.
As the planet warms, thanks to our gas-guzzling cars and power-producing factories, the polar bear’s frozen habitat is disappearing. Arctic sea ice has been declining at a rate of 13% per decade since 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Many scientists expect summer sea ice to disappear in a matter of decades. Polar bears live and hunt from sea ice. If it’s gone, they can’t catch seals, which tend to stay far from land. And if the bears can’t catch seals, they can’t survive. There’s no other way around it.
Unless, maybe, you airdrop some food on them.
But even then, something of the bear’s essence is lost.
No, what’s lost is my lunch. But I got to the toilet in time.
The study shows that “the bear population is not in crisis as people believed,” said Drikus Gissing, Nunavut’s director of wildlife management. “There is no doom and gloom.”
Mr. Gissing added that the government isn’t dismissing concerns about climate change, but he said Nunavut wants to base bear-management practices on current information “and not predictions about what might happen.”
[M]any Inuit communities said the researchers were wrong. They said the bear population was increasing and they cited reports from hunters who kept seeing more bears. Mr. Gissing said that encouraged the government to conduct the recent study, which involved 8,000 kilometres of aerial surveying last August along the coast and offshore islands.
Mr. Gissing said he hopes the results lead to more research and a better understanding of polar bears. He said the media in southern Canada has led people to believe polar bears are endangered. “They are not.” He added that there are about 15,000 polar bears across Canada’s Arctic. “That’s likely the highest [population level] there has ever been.”
And that’s not even addressing the outdated absurdity of our “gas-guzzling” cars or “power-producing” factories. Most serious scientists have cooled on manmade global warming. What’s left is dopes like this guy.
How about we don’t feed the polar bears, as he suggests we don’t, but for the reason that they’re fat and happy on their own?
PS: This WaPo article points out there hasn’t been a head-count since the early 90s. Talk about bogus science!