Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Polar bear researchers urge governments to act now and save the species

Date:
February 4, 2013
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
Polar bear researchers are urging governments to start planning for rapid Arctic ecosystem change to deal with a climate change catastrophe for the animals.

Polar bear mother and yearling cubs.
Credit: © hperry / Fotolia

A University of Alberta polar bear researcher and 11 international co-authors are urging governments to start planning for rapid Arctic ecosystem change to deal with a climate change catastrophe for the animals.

U of A professor Andrew Derocher co-wrote a policy perspective urging governments with polar bear populations to accept that just one unexpected jump in Arctic warming trends could send some polar bear populations into a precipitous decline.

"It's a fact that early sea ice breakup, late ice freeze-up and the overall reduction in ice pack are taking their toll," said Derocher. "We want governments to be ready with conservation and management plans for polar bears when a worst-case climate change scenario happens."

The effects of climate change on polar bears are clear from both observational and modelling studies in many areas where the bears are found. Earlier studies by Derocher and his colleagues show that one very bad ice year could leave hundreds of Hudson Bay polar bears stranded on land for an extended period. "Such an event could erase half of a population in a single year," Derocher noted.

"The management options for northern communities like Churchill would range from doing nothing, to feeding the bears, moving them somewhere else or euthanizing them," said Derocher.

The concerned researchers say they're not telling governments what to do. But they want policy makers and wildlife managers to start planning for both the predicted escalation of Arctic warming and for an off-the-charts, worst-case scenario.

"You're going to make better decisions if you have time to think about it in advance; it's a no-brainer," said Derocher, adding that "consultation with northern residents takes time and the worst time to ask for input is during a crisis."

The researchers say the options for polar bear management include what Derocher calls a "wild bear park model" -- feeding and releasing the bears when freeze-ups allow the animals to get to their hunting grounds. But the paper reports that the cost could run into the millions and could have ramifications for the animals' long-term behaviour.

The authors of the paper say governments should be aware of the fallout from climate change, and human safety in the North is going to be an increasing challenge.

"Around the world, polar bears are an iconic symbol, so any tragedy would produce massive attention," said Derocher. "If the warming trend around Hudson Bay took an upward spike, the population of 900 to 1,000 bears in western Hudson Bay would be on the line, so there has to be a plan."

The paper, titled "Rapid ecosystem change and polar bear conservation," was published online as an accepted article Jan. 25 in the journal Conservation Letters.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta. The original article was written by Brian Murphy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Andrew E. Derocher, Jon Aars, Steven C. Amstrup, Amy Cutting, Nick J. Lunn, Pιter K. Molnαr, Martyn E. Obbard, Ian Stirling, Gregory W. Thiemann, Dag Vongraven, Ψystein Wiig, Geoffrey York. Rapid ecosystem change and polar bear conservation. Conservation Letters, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/conl.12009

Cite This Page:

University of Alberta. "Polar bear researchers urge governments to act now and save the species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204184716.htm>.
University of Alberta. (2013, February 4). Polar bear researchers urge governments to act now and save the species. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204184716.htm
University of Alberta. "Polar bear researchers urge governments to act now and save the species." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204184716.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — Mount Paektu volcano in North Korea is showing signs of life and there's not much known about it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins