Polar bears in sharp decline in Canada's Western Hudson Bay
The polar bears' lifeline, ice, is rapidly and devastatingly disappearing.
A just-released government survey shows that polar bears in Canada's Western Hudson Bay continue to die in high numbers as neglect to tackle climate change continues.
Researchers surveyed Western Hudson Bay which houses the town dubbed "the Polar Bear Capital of the World," — by air in 2021 and estimated there were 618 bears, compared to the 842 in 2016 when they were last surveyed.
Andrew Derocher, a biology professor at the University of Alberta not involved in the study and who has studied Hudson Bay polar bears for nearly four decades, stated. "The actual decline is a lot larger than I would have expected."
Since the 1980s, the number plunged by almost 50%, the authors of the research found, especially since polar bear survival depends on ice which is rapidly and devastatingly disappearing.
Issues on viability
The arctic sea ice, which represents their lifeline, is essential for their survival as they use it to hunt and hide to spot seals; their main course. But with the ice melting almost two times as fast, this poses a grave threat to their ability to survive and reproduce.
Stephen Atkinson, the lead author who has actually studied polar bears for more than 30 years, expressed, "Those are the types of bears we've always predicted would be affected by changes in the environment."
"It certainly raises issues about the ongoing viability," Derocher added. "That is the reproductive engine of the population."
The capacity for polar bears in the Western Hudson Bay to reproduce will diminish, Atkinson said, "because you simply have fewer young bears that survive and become adults."
Polar bears have become the face of the climate crisis, with experts predicting back in June that the animals will become extinct in a matter of decades as the Arctic sea ice melts.