Monday, February 19, 2007

Back to the Bears

Hello Everyone,
If you click on the title of this post it will take you to the Nunatsiaq News article about the bears in Kangiqsujuaq. I've also heard concerns from our southern friends regarding the "extreme" nature with which these bears were treated, So lets discuss the bears a bit.
Polar Bears are not a endangered species, Lets clear that up to start with. They are on the WWF's watch list. The watch list consists of animals that live in very small habitats, live in very small numbers or for other reasons, such as they are on their way to becoming extinct. A couple of years ago the Polar Bear scare began in earnest, A polar bear was found dead in the water near Churchill. The bear under closer examination proved to have been starving to death and drown in the water. Polar bears can swim along way (up to 60 miles its rumored), So the question was raised why did this bear drown? It was speculated that the bear was on a ice floe and starving and drown triing to swim to another floe. Experts then speculated that ice floe's must be further apart thereby causing speculation that global warming would cause the end of the Polar bear. The main reason that the Polar Bear is on the watch list is that there isn't enough data on the Polar bear to have established a baseline by which to judge the populations security in its environment.

Now, according to the elders around Churchill there aren't as many bears around town as five and ten years ago. Leading people to conclude there aren't as many bears as five or ten years ago. However, up the coast further there are reports of more bears than in previous years meaning the bears may be heading further north to ensure good ice floe's. Reports from elders do not support this as bear census numbers are down in the Hudson's Bay population by approx 20%. There are also reports that conclude that containment's in the Hudson Bay have lead to the actual physical shrinking of the Polar Bears penis size, thereby reducing the effectiveness of mating.
Now, the region we currently live in has a different bear population than the Hudson Bay Bears, we are subjected to the Davis Strait population of bears. These bears according to the same census numbers as the Hudson Bay bears have grown by approx 40%. Meaning the population of bears here is thriving.
Onto the question of why the bears weren't relocated (as we've all seen on TV). first the bears must be tranquilized in order to be moved, and as any Vet will tell you this is extremely dangerous, too little and you die, too much and the bear dies. Ok, so now we have a tranquilized bear, we must contain it, in Churchill this is done is extremely large drain pipe looking things with large grates at either end, these were custom designed for this purpose and must be on hand in order to contain the Bear's You can't indefinitely tranquilize a animal as it will die, you only have hours to get the bear moved. Which also means you need a helicopter on hand to immediately move the sedated bear. Now if you add up the cost of this equipment every community of the north would have to invest about( I have no idea what a helicopter costs) but I'll guess the whole kit and caboodle will run the community in the neighbourhood of 10 million. This doesn't include the costs of having a pilot, mechanic and vet on hand to be able to utilize this equipment when necessary. We can't even get doctors (same as the south), but the idea of getting vets in the town to protect the bears against a occasional intrusion is unrealistic.
Above all, remember this is also a traditional food for the people of this land. These animals are not restricted to hunting the way narwhal and other animals are. this is due to the fact they are rarely found and extremely hard to hunt, they are intelligent, impossibly camouflaged in the winter and also incredibly dangerous. The Polar bear is considered the most dangerous bear on the planet, it is unpredictable and incredibly large some reaching 22 feet on their hind legs, they can kill with a single blow. While Churchill has a booming eco-tourism business that contributes to the expenses of bear relocation, they too have to destroy bears from time to time.
In this community I found out the decision to destroy the bears was made by a elder, as is their right.
Polar bears look real cuddly behind the glass and bars of a zoo, but in your backyard they are a true danger.
Take Care
P.S. They got a wolf in front our house today as well.


Anonymous said...

Oh my, a wolf, you say. Did he huff and puff and try to blow down your house? Couldn't resist!!

That's fascinating how some of the polar bear population is doing well, while others are dwindling. It always seems that humans are slow to pick up on the animal kingdom and then always try to fix things at the last moment.

Do polar bears only eat fish or seals? What kind of a diet do they prefer? I hope they never get a yearning for humans, but have heard if they do, they will be very dangerous to have in the vincinity.

It seemed very strange coming out of work this evening - the temperature had risen to above freezing and it is supposed to stay that way overnight. I won't be sad to see the ice and snow melt and am really looking forward to spring.

I watched CBC the other night and they had some kind of experts on who are studying the Northern Lights. It was quite fascinating to see how they dance and move across the sky. I would think you have an ideal position to see them in their full glory. Do you still whistle when you see them in the sky? I had the opportunity to view them when we visited Winnipeg, but it stayed light so long, (in July), the viewing wasn't the best.

I hope with each new day that things are improving for you and your family. I must say you have some of us wondering, but I won't press you for any details, especially in this medium.

I wish you well. Don't forget that Tuesday (tomorrow) is Pancake Day. Take care ---- Rosalie

Curtis Groom said...

Polar Bears predominately eat meat, seal, walrus. The Beluga we saw last summer had claw marks on its back, so them too, they're opportunist feeders meaning they'll eat whatever they can get their claws on. Although there have been some found recently with seaweed in their stomachs, but these were starving bears.
The Northern lights aren't that dramatic up here, apparently they're best viewed around the 60 th parrealell. They are active here, but the only color we've ever seen is green.
We're still strugglinf through our problems.