Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Canadian Hunting May Be Hurting Polar Bears

I didn't even know Canada had hunting policies for polar bear. It's amazing what one learns from running a blog. Anyway, not only are polar bears in danger of drowning from melting ice caps, but their male population is threatened by hunting. Because it takes two to reproduce, this hunting could endanger the survival of the species.

Here are the highlights....

New research suggests that Canadian polar bear hunting policies could be pushing populations of the iconic Arctic predator toward sudden, steep declines.

Hunters focus mostly on male bears. {Peter Molnar of the University of Alberta} said that about two-thirds of the bears taken by hunters in Canada are males.

That means the bears could be edging toward what biologists call the Allee effect - a sudden collapse of breeding success after the male-female ratio passes a tipping point.

Scientists say two-thirds of the world's polar bears will be gone by 2050 as melting sea ice slowly robs them of their habitat.

Animal rights activists such as the U.S. Humane Society have used those statements to argue for a ban on sport-hunting. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering declaring the bears an endangered species, even though the lowest estimate of their worldwide population is 20,000.

But Inuit, who can earn up to $30,000 for guiding a single sport-hunting trip, say bear numbers are healthy and some populations are actually growing - testimony often referenced by climate change skeptics.

The report was done in collaboration with the government of Nunavut. Although polar bear quotas are proposed by community-based hunter's groups, the territory has the ultimate responsibility for deciding how many of the bears can be taken.

Photo by intrepidberkeleyexplorer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The same researcher from the report you quoted also said the following,

"it is certainly something we must take into consideration, but I wouldn’t go that far with the information we have today that we need to change the hunting policies, because we have not seen the changes yet and have not evaluated the hunting strategies in this paper.”

and he also says,

"…There currently appears to be no problem with the pregnancy rate. In Lancaster Sound, for example, 99 per cent of females find partners."

Although it is something to track and be aware of - the report was NOT about hunting.

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