"Starved polar bear perished due to record sea-ice melt, says expert"
"Climate change has reduced sea ice in the Arctic to record lows in the last year and Dr Ian Stirling, who has studied the bears for almost 40 years and examined the animal, said the lack of ice forced the bear into ranging far and wide in an ultimately unsuccessful search for food.
"From his lying position in death the bear appears to simply have starved and died where he dropped," Stirling said. "He had no external suggestion of any remaining fat, having been reduced to little more than skin and bone."
The bear had been examined by scientists from the Norwegian Polar Institute in April in the southern part of Svalbard, an Arctic island archipelago, and appeared healthy. The same bear had been captured in the same area in previous years, suggesting that the discovery of its body, 250km away in northern Svalbard in July, represented an unusual movement away from its normal range. The bear probably followed the fjords inland as it trekked north, meaning it may have walked double or treble that distance."
The guardian has been brow beating us into accepting the climate science consensus and now we are told polar bears are in danger of dying out, because one has been found dead.
Well the scientific facts surrounding this particular dead polar bear are:
1. the male polar bear was 16, although they "usually" live into their early 20's apparently (the actual statistical distribution in lifespan is not presented, along with the statisical chance this polar bear just died of old age)
2. the bear was 250km away from its normal feeding areas and the reason for this is unknown. Male Polar bears can travel long distances to mate.
3. the autopsy amounted to a visual inspection along with the assertion
"There may have been some underlying disease, but I would be surprised if this was anything other than starvation," he said. "Once polar bears reach adulthood they are normally nigh on indestructible, they are hard as nails."
4. In the area of the Barents Sea and Svalbard the scientists do not have enough data to tell what is happening the the polar bear population.
5. Apparently "Polar bears do not mark their territory or aggressively guard it." So if a bear moves to a new territory to feed this won't be due to younger fitter males forcing it out to feed in a more marginal location. Aggression only occurs between males competing for breeding females. This is not now the breeding season although it is not clear if the polar bear died in the breeding season (March to May)
6. Feeding polar bears is one way of keeping them alive apparently
"In February a panel of polar bear experts published a paper stating that rapid ice loss meant options such the feeding of starving bears by humans needed to be considered to protect the 20,000-25,000 animals thought to remain."
7. It is normal for animal populations to fluctuate from year to year.
From all this I simply conclude that Polar bear experts do not have enough information to preach to us yet on the precise effects of climate change on overall polar bear numbers. Data is deficient concerning most of the larger polar bear populations, including the Baring Sea popuilation in and around Svalbard. Calculated trends in polar bear numbers seem to be calculated quite often from a single data point an educated guess how numbers may have changed since then.
This Polar Bear Story in the Guardian tells us nothing, other than we have no idea what is happening to polar bears and their coping/survival stategies in adversity. Geographically isolated popullations of polar bears may well be more vulnerable to sudden population crashes.
Get a grip polar bear scientists!
Try to make sure you have the data over the next decade to tell us what is really happening. Don't be supprised if polar bears die out in a few locations, and start up in other locations.