In a bit of news from around the Arctic Circle, a film crew caught some footage of another starving polar bear. Excerpt:
This year, biologist Paul Nicklen published a video online of an emaciated polar bear on Baffin Island rummaging through trash cans, looking for food. The polar bear was likely at death’s door when Nicklen captured the footage in late summer.
Nicklen, who founded the environmental group Sea Legacy, said he wanted to highlight the future polar bears face because of global warming. It worked, and the video has gone viral, sparking media coverage about a polar bear that’s a victim of a warming world.
“We stood there crying—filming with tears rolling down our cheeks,” Nicklen said, National Geographic reported.
“When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death,” said Nicklen. “This is what a starving bear looks like.”
Yes, bears are going to starve to death. Mountain lions are going to starve to death. Wolves are going to starve to death. It is a sad but inevitable fact in the lives of large predators that some of them never quite get the hang of surviving. The death rate of young bears in many environments is appalling.
But that’s nature for you.
There are a number of questions that I’d like to have answered that might shed a little more light on the whole thing:
- Assuming the bear did die, and it does indeed look inevitable from the film, did anyone do a necropsy on the animal to discover if it was injured, infested with parasites, or diseased?
- How old was the bear? Young bears, especially young males, are frequently injured by larger, older bears as they seek their own territories.
- Were any other emaciated bears observed in the area? If the environmental conditions were the root cause of this bear’s condition, then other bears in the area would be suffering as well.
- Where, exactly, was the bear? Near a human habitation? Polar bears are creatures of the coast and pack ice, but one hanging out near human habitations may (again) be a young one still learning how to survive, and maybe doing poorly.
In other words, there are just too many possible explanations to just go off and go “RRHHHEEEEE! Global climate change! We must cripple our economy now!” Large predators almost never die peaceful deaths. They are killed in fights with other predators, they are injured trying to take down a prey animal, they die of disease or by accident, or they just plain starve. It’s a damned tough world out there, and in the Arctic, it’s several quantum levels tougher.
Blaming this on climate change is some Olympic-level jumping to a conclusion.