By Paul Homewood
h/t Patsy Lacey
Good news. David Rose is back in town, with polar bear report from Hudson Bay:
On the afternoon of July 3, Aaron Gibbons, a hunter from the Inuit hamlet of Arviat on the north-west shore of Hudson Bay, took his three children on a boat trip.
Gibbons, 31, had a well-paid job at Meadowbank, a gold mine deep in the Arctic tundra, which took him away for weeks at a time.
But when he was home, he loved to deploy the inherited skills of his ancestors.
‘He was an experienced provider of country food for his family,’ says his uncle, Gordy Kidlapik, 60, a hunting veteran. ‘His father had brought him up that way, and he was good at it.’
Aaron and his children were headed for Sentry Island – seven miles across the bay from Arviat – a popular spot for picnics, hunting and fishing, where they planned to harvest some of its abundant supply of Arctic tern eggs.
In dappled summer sunshine, the island is idyllic – a place of rugged moorland, shingly beaches, and brilliant green shrubs.
Unfortunately, polar bears like tern eggs, too, and the family hadn’t been there long when Gibbons realised that a mature male, 9ft in length from jaws to rump, was stalking them.
He yelled at the children to get back in the boat, and as they scrambled to escape, he stood his ground on the beach. For reasons that remain unknown, he was without his rifle.
The bear pounced, and while his 12-year-old daughter desperately radioed for help, Aaron was mauled to death…..
Part of a chain of coastal settlements in Nunavut, Canada’s northernmost territory,
Arviat, population 2,800, is a snowy huddle of low, well-insulated buildings and very remote. The nearest road connected to the rest of Canada is at Winnipeg, 800 miles away.
For six days before my arrival, blizzards and ice on the runways had forced the Arctic carrier Calm Air to cancel its Arviat flights.
Last week, Arviat’s minimum temperature hit minus 36C. However, as I rapidly discovered, its people – who are almost all Inuit – are as warm as its weather is brutal.
They also turned a conventional wisdom on its head, saying that polar bears are not in crisis, nor even in decline: the main problem, according to the people who know them best, is that there are too many of them.
Climate change – cited as the reason for their imminent demise, due to rising temperatures shrinking the ice essential to their survival – may be altering their behaviour, but the Inuit say they are adapting, and remain fat and healthy, and perfectly able to breed.
Scared and exasperated by the threat the bears pose, some Inuit leaders are voicing a demand which, if granted, may trigger a global furore akin to Japan’s decision to resume commercial whaling.
They want to be allowed to increase their permitted polar bear hunting quota to reduce numbers.
Like almost any story about polar bears, the summer maulings were soon slotted into a familiar narrative. They were, it was claimed, one more symptom of climate change caused by humans, which is said to be rapidly driving the bears towards extinction.
‘Without action on climate change, we could see dramatic declines in polar bear numbers by mid-century,’ says campaign group Polar Bears International (PBI). The reason: ‘Loss of their sea-ice habitat and reduced access to their seal prey.’
According to PBI’s conservation director, Geoff York, ‘what we’re seeing across the Arctic as sea ice recedes is that more polar bears are spending time on shore… It is creating that perfect storm of potential for human-bear conflict’.
In places such as Arviat, adds Professor Andrew Derocher of the University of Alberta, there might appear to be more bears, ‘but you can’t equate seeing more bears with there being more bears’.
All that was happening was that the bears were spending more time near humans, and hence becoming more visible.
Around the Arctic, polar bears – estimated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature to number in total about 26,000 – are divided into 19 ‘sub-population’ groups.
Prof Derocher said he had ‘no hesitation’ in saying that the sub-population in the Arviat region, known as West Hudson Bay, has ‘declined from historic levels’. Eventually, the level would become ‘unsustainable’. Already, he says, the bears have become skinnier and less able to reproduce, while fewer cubs grow to adulthood.
The people of Arviat vehemently disagree, their knowledge derived from centuries of survival in the harshest environment imaginable and co-existence with bears and other wildlife.
Inuit elder David Alagalak, 74, spent his early years living in a traditional stone hut, and shot his first adult bear in 1952, when he was nine.
He says: ‘The population in this area has increased by 300 to 400 per cent. Everywhere the hunters go, they see polar bears. There are a lot more than in the past.’
William Tiktaq adds: ‘When I was a kid, I didn’t worry about bears. Now you have to keep your eyes open and your ears clean. I wish the scientists from down south who say they’re dying out would come and spend a year, or even five years, and they would know about this increase. If we had scientists living here, they would have a different perspective.’
Mayor Bob Leonard, originally a southerner who has lived in Arviat for 45 years, agrees: ‘Something has happened in the past six or seven years. We never used to see bears, even if we went camping somewhere like Sentry Island. People are angry and afraid.
And because of the claims scientists have made in the past, which turned out not to be true, they don’t care much for what scientists say. You get the sense the world looks on this place as a large zoo, and has to have an opinion on it. That can get irritating.’
The full story is worth reading.
David Rose and the Inuit he has spoken to confirm what sceptical scientists such as Dr Susan Crockford have been saying for some time.
Yet still Derocher and his chums at the activist PBI deny reality.
via NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT
December 30, 2018 at 05:48AM