Researchers have discovered an alarming loss of life price amongst polar bears in Canada’s Western Hudson Bay, an space that features a city referred to as “the Polar Bear Capital of the World.”
In keeping with a brand new authorities survey, the as soon as populous predators are dying off within the southern fringe of the Arctic — and are doing so in excessive numbers.
Females and bear cubs are particularly having a tough time surviving, the examine discovered.
The brand new survey discovered a mere 618 polar bears remaining within the space as of 2021, a drop from the 842 that had been present in the identical space in 2016, when the realm was final surveyed.
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“The precise decline is rather a lot bigger than I might have anticipated,” stated Andrew Derocher, a biology professor on the College of Alberta.
Whereas Derocher has studied the Hudson Bay polar bears for practically 40 years, he was not concerned within the examine.
The decline has continued for many years, exhibiting because the Nineteen Eighties that the variety of bears within the area has fallen by practically 50%, the researchers discovered.
The decline shares a correlation with the disappearing of ice important to their survival, they stated.
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Polar bears survive on arctic sea ice — frozen ocean water — which they use to swim and hunt their meals. The ice seasonally shrinks in the summertime as hotter temperatures are extra frequent and re-forms throughout colder winter months.
Stephen Atkinson, the lead writer of the examine who has studied polar bears for greater than 30 years, stated this sea ice is melting earlier within the yr and is taking longer to freeze over, attributable to typically hotter temperatures caused by local weather change.
“These are the sorts of bears we’ve at all times predicted could be affected by adjustments within the surroundings,” Atkinson stated.
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“It definitely raises points concerning the ongoing viability,” Derocher stated. “That’s the reproductive engine of the inhabitants.”
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Much less ice and fewer polar bears lead to fewer alternatives for the bears to mate, additional impacting their decline, Atkinson stated, “since you merely have fewer younger bears that survive and turn out to be adults.”
The Related Press contributed to this report.