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February 06, 2007

F%#@in' Polar Bears Again

There's a dustup in environmental circles about polar bears.

Word is they're drowning en masse because the wasteland they call a habitat is slowly turning into kind of a nice place for jetskiing.
So recently the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has considered listing polar bears as a Threatened species.

Many of you are aware that this blog has a love-hate relationship with polar bears. Of course we admire them for their cuteness and for their skill at hunting and eating eskimos.
But then again, there's the possibility for a new place to jetski, litter, and exploit indigenous people. It's a Republican conundrum.

Except it isn't.
Would it surprise anyone here that this issue hinges on a whole lot of unsupported junk science?
From Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), in a Senate floor speech delivered last month:

In the proposal, the Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledges that for seven of the 19 worldwide polar bear populations, the Service has no population trend data of any kind. Other data suggest that for an additional five polar bear populations, the number of bears is not declining and is stable. Two more of the bear populations showed reduced numbers in the past due to over hunting, but these two populations are now increasing because of hunting restrictions.

Other sources of data mentioned in a recent Wall Street Journal piece, suggest that "there are more polar bears in the world now than there were 40 years ago." The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the polar bear population is 20,000 to 25,000 bears, whereas in the 1950s and 1960s, estimates were as low as 5,000-10,000 bears due to sport hunting, which has since been restricted.

A 2002 U.S. Geological Survey of wildlife in the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain noted that the polar bear populations "may now be near historic highs."

Emphasis mine, and cancel the small watercraft plans.

The law also allows for the Fish and Wildlife Service to justify its proposal on a sample from a single population in Western Hudson Bay in Canada, where bear populations have decreased by 259 polar bears in the last 17 years. Yet hunting was allowed during that entire period in the Western Hudson Bay population. In fact, according to the latest figures collectedĘby the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 234 bears have been killed in the last 5 years alone.

OK, so we're down 259 bears, and 234 have been culled by hunters. Now, don't discount the effects of Climate Change.

Maybe it just finally became warm enough up there to put together a decent hunting party again.

If you read on further in the Senator's remarks, he excoriates the Endangered Species Act as a tool for subverting private property rights, and ties it all together beautifully.

The Global Warming page on Canada Free Press is a treasure trove. There's some other neat stuff in there too, just haven't had the chance to do more exploring.

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posted by Laura. at 12:20 AM

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