Article courtesy of Polar Bear Science. com.
A paper published yesterday discusses polar bears that get into human garbage and cause other problems due to community attractants. Most of the incidents recounted and the issues they’ve raised have been reported by the media and are ones I’ve discussed here over the last few years in detail, including here and here, as well as in my recent book (Crockford 2019).
All you need to know about the motivation behind the paper comes from the authors’ acknowledgement:
This paper developed from a meeting in Churchill, Manitoba, in autumn 2019 where the issue of dump use by polar bears arose. We thank Dan Cox [a photographer for PBI] for suggesting exploration of this issue and Polar Bears International for arranging this meeting.
So, six months or so after my book came out in March 2019, in which these issues were discussed in detail, polar bear experts decided it was time to write a paper on the topic. The open access paper, by Tom Smith and colleagues (Smith et al. 2022), is accompanied by an online essay published the same day by the lead author and picked up at least one cheer-leading media outlet via Reuters. See what you think.
A fat polar bear was killed early this morning (Sunday 1 May 2022) near a small town on the north shore of the Gaspé Peninsula, the portion of Quebec that New Brunswick in the Gulf of St. Lawrence after being tracked by wildlife conservation officers since yesterday. Two other sightings were reported in the Gulf earlier in April on the opposite shore, which could possibly have been the same bear.
This is why there are polar bears in my recent sea ice tsunami novel set in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in March 2026. Davis Strait polar bears are thriving, having increased in number dramatically since the 1970s, due to hunting bans and abundant harp seals. Until the last few years, Davis Strait polar bears haven’t been spotted this far south in the spring since 1849 (with a few other historical reports even further south in the 1500s). The last time a polar bear was spotted onshore in the Gulf area (and got this much attention) was in late March 2017.
These recent polar bear sightings in the Gulf of St. Lawrence likely reflect a population that’s at its peak size or still increasing. The photo above shows the bear was in excellent condition after feeding heavily on harp seal pups. Unfortunately, from where it ended up, it likely wouldn’t have made it back to the receding pack ice off Labrador in time to return to Davis Strait for the summer.