AFP, published on Friday, December 23, 2022 at 22:32.
Polar bears in western Hudson Bay in northern Canada are rapidly disappearing, according to a recent government study.
The researchers counted 194 bears from late August to early September 2021 while flying over the Churchill region, a locality at the gateway to the Arctic in the Canadian province of Manitoba, which calls itself the “polar bear capital”. . From this count, they estimated that there were 618 polar bears in the area.
The previous count conducted in 2016 estimated that there were 842 polar bears in this region.
“Comparison with estimates from aerial surveys from 2011 and 2016 suggests that the abundance of the western Hudson Bay population may be declining,” the study concludes.
The researchers point out that females and young have been particularly affected by this decline.
They state that they are unable to confirm with certainty the reasons for this decline. And especially cite, as possible factors, the animal’s movement to neighboring regions or even hunting.
“The observed declines are consistent with long-standing predictions regarding the demographic effects of climate change on polar bears,” they noted.
Bears depend on the ice to feed on seals, move around and reproduce.
But in the Arctic, global warming is up to four times faster than elsewhere in the world, the latest studies show.
The pack ice, the polar bear’s habitat, is gradually disappearing. Since the 1980s, sea ice has shrunk nearly 50% in the summer, according to the National Snow And Ice Data Center.
According to a report published in Nature Climate Change in 2020, this could mark the virtual extinction of this emblematic animal: there were 1,200 individuals in the 1980s.