Surprise for climate-change doomsayers: Polar bear population larger than expected

The number of bears along the western shore of Hudson Bay, believed to be among the most threatened bear subpopulations, stands at 1,013 and could be even higher, according to the results of an aerial survey released Wednesday by the Government of Nunavut. That’s 66 per cent higher than estimates by other researchers who forecasted the numbers would fall to as low as 610 because of warming temperatures that melt ice faster and ruin bears’ ability to hunt. The Hudson Bay region, which straddles Nunavut and Manitoba, is critical because it’s considered a bellwether for how polar bears are doing elsewhere in the Arctic…

The study’s conclusions drew concern from Andrew Derocher, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta who has been studying polar-bear populations for years. Prof. Derocher said the 1,013 figure is derived from a range of 717 bears to 1,430. “It’s premature to draw many conclusions,” he said, adding that there were no comparative figures and the upper end of the range, 1,430, was highly unlikely…
But many Inuit communities said the researchers were wrong. They said the bear population was increasing and they cited reports from hunters who kept seeing more bears. Mr. Gissing said that encouraged the government to conduct the recent study, which involved 8,000 kilometres of aerial surveying last August along the coast and offshore islands.