Could it possibly be that polar bears are not as endangered by global climate change as has previously been believed? New research seems to indicate that polar bear populations are thriving in the Arctic, even as the climate warms and ice melts.
A survey of the animals’ numbers in Canada’s eastern Arctic has revealed that they are thriving, not declining, because of mankind’s interference in the environment.
In the Davis Strait area, a 140,000-square kilometre region, the polar bear population has grown from 850 in the mid-1980s to 2,100 today.
“There aren’t just a few more bears. There are a hell of a lot more bears,” said Mitch Taylor, a polar bear biologist who has spent 20 years studying the animals.
His findings back the claims of Inuit hunters who have long claimed that they were seeing more bears.
These claims are not without controversy, however:
Critics claim the government has an agenda to encourage polar bear hunting and keep the animals off the endangered species list.
In small Inuit communities, hunters kill bears that wander too close to human settlements and, in this particular region, they are licensed to kill six polar bears a year.
Polar bear experts said that numbers had increased not because of climate change but due to the efforts of conservationists.
Clearly, much more research in this arena is justified before conclusions related to the endgangered species label and other such policy issues are to be enacted.