Monday, February 4, 2008

Grin and Bear It

Unless prominent biologists mistakingly included the misguided environmental protesters dressed polar bears at Ed Stelmach's recent Washington visit, it appears that the great white bears are are not endangered at all, despite the threat that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing the polar bear a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act to soothe the frenzied nature lovers.

In fact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service estimates that the polar bear population is currently at 20,000 to 25,000 bears, up from as low as 5,000-10,000 bears in the 1950s and 1960s. A 2002 U.S. Geological Survey of wildlife in the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain noted that the polar bear populations “may now be near historic highs.” The alarm about the future of polar bear decline is based on speculative computer model predictions many decades in the future. And the methodology of these computer models is being challenged by many scientists and forecasting experts. (LINK)

Canadian biologist Dr. Mitchell Taylor, the director of wildlife research with the Arctic government of Nunavut: “Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present,” Taylor said. “It is just silly to predict the demise of polar bears in 25 years based on media-assisted hysteria.” (LINK)

Evolutionary Biologist and Paleozoologist Dr. Susan Crockford of University of Victoria in Canada has published a number of papers in peer-reviewed academic journals. “Polar bears, for example, survived several episodes of much warmer climate over the last 10,000 years than exists today,” Crockford wrote. “There is no evidence to suggest that the polar bear or its food supply is in danger of disappearing entirely with increased Arctic warming, regardless of the dire fairy-tale scenarios predicted by computer models.” (LINK)

It seems only fair that if the United States enacts a law to protect Canadian polar bears, the Canadian government should enact it own law to open the season on people dressed as polar bears in the United States, that way the Canadian Inuit would not have to face economic hardship when they go south for the winter.

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