According to a new study, the number of polar bears is decreasing in western Hudson Bay in Canada.
The study shows that the number of bears and cubs in particular has decreased.
Every five years, the Canadian government sends researchers to fly over the region, which includes the village of Churchill, a tourist destination described as the “polar bear capital of the world”, to count the number of bears and thus keep track development in the population.
194 bears were seen during the last count in August and September 2021. Based on this, the researchers estimate the total population to be 618 bears, up from 842 five years earlier.
– Comparison with estimates from 2011 and 2016 studies suggests the population may be in steep decline, the study says.
– The observed decline is consistent with long-established predictions of how polar bear distribution is affected by climate change, the researchers write.
They also point out that the possible movement of bears to nearby areas and hunting may have contributed to the decline.
But polar bears depend on the ice and their habitat has been rapidly degraded. Northern regions are warming up to four times faster than the rest of the world.
This means that the ice has become thinner, breaking up earlier in the spring, and freezing again later in the fall. Polar bears use the ice for hunting seals, for movement and for breeding.
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