Polar bear population healthy, study shows - Must Read Alaska
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Polar bear population healthy, study shows

Retreating sea ice notwithstanding, the polar bear population off the western coast of Alaska’s Chukchi Sea appears to be abundant and healthy.

A study by researchers at the University of Washington and federal Fish and Wildlife Agency says about 3,000 polar bears make up the population in the Chukchi. There’s never been a formal study done before the one published Nov. 14 in Scientific Reports.

The authors say that the bears have about one month less time on their sea ice habitats, compared to what they had 25 years ago. And yet the animals are thriving.

[Read the scientific report here]

Although polar bears were listed in 2008 as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, this study doesn’t support the popular notion that the bears in U.S. habitats are suffering, although other populations of polar bears are struggling due to diminishing sea ice that they use to hunt sea mammals.

Other studies show the Chukchi polar bears are maintaining the same body fat they had 25 years ago; this study shows they have good  reproductive rates and cub survival.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Some years ago I was in Shishmaref for a few months, I believe around 1983-84. There was a warehouse that was full of polar bear skins, as well as some hanging outside around the village. I know the natives are allowed to hunt them, but if they are endangered I hope that is no longer allowed. They do not eat them, and any hunting for traditional uses should be by monitored permit.

  • Any body fat ratio comparisons? Eating more garbage, carrion, birds? I’d love to know if their diet has shifted, and DNA sampling – to find out if there are more brown bear/polar bear hybrids as their environments force increased overlaps in territory?

  • Baby bear smiling at the drone above. Lefties have long been spinning the fable about polar bears dying because of man-made climate warming. Polar bears, like all creatures, learn to adapt to new circumstances. It’s the way nature intends.

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