Polar bears are rapidly disappearing from the western part of Hudson Bay at the southern tip of Canada’s Arctic, a government study has found.
The report said that there has been a sharp decline in the number of female bears and cubs in particular.
Researchers have flown over the region, which includes the city of Churchill, a tourist destination known as the “polar bear capital of the world,” every five years to count the number of bears and track population growth. to increase the trend.
During the last survey conducted in late August and early September 2021, the results of which were published earlier this month, 194 bears were observed and based on that count a total population of 618 bears was estimated , which is less than 842. Bear registered five years ago.
The study said a comparison of estimates from 2011 and 2016 aerial surveys suggests that the western Hudson Bay population “may be declining in abundance”.
It also revealed a “significant decline in the abundance of adult female and subadult bears between 2011 and 2021”.
“The observed decline is consistent with long-term predictions of the demographic effects of climate change on polar bears,” the researchers said.
They also cited possible displacement and hunting in neighboring areas as reasons for the population decline.
The bears’ sea ice habitat is disappearing at an alarming rate, as the far north of the planet is warming four times faster than the rest of the world.
sea ice is thinning Breaks prematurely in spring and freezes in late autumn.
Bears depend on the ice to be able to search for seals, move around, and breed.
According to data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, Hudson Bay’s summer ice cover has declined by about 50% since the 1980s.
A report published two years ago in the journal nature climate change suggested that this trend could drive the Gulf’s polar bears to near extinction, given that there were 1,200 bears on its western shores in the 1980s.