Too many bears in the Canadian Arctic?

The Nunavut government has put together a report looking into polar bear Inuit interactions. The report suggests that population growth has pushed the polar bears into close proximity with the Inuits and the result of this is likely to be more and more clashes and potentially deaths of humans.

Scientists, on the other hand, contend that the number of polar bears is way too low and the reason that the two species are coming into conflict is entirely based on climate change. Due to earlier ice melt and issues associated with this, the polar bears in existence are being pushed onto land that is used by the Inuit.

This is a highly important distinction because if the Inuit are to be believed then the polar bear, far from doing poorly out of climate change, are actually doing too well. This is clearly not true; currently polar bears require large areas of ice to hunt during the winter. From the ice they can hunt effectively and for millennia they have survived on the understanding that during the ice period, they can build up large amounts of weight so that when the ice melts they have fat reserves to survive on. Due to the fact that the ice is melting earlier and earlier and not forming until later in the year the period in which they can eat very little is increasing to a point at which it is unsustainable.

The inuits can make money by selling the right to hunt polar bears and it seems a wholly self-serving policy to attempt to increase their quota, at the detriment of future quotas if they damage the species beyond survival.

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