Polar BearI have already come to the conclusion that unless the Bush administration, more specifically the Department of the Interior, determines that the world is coming to an end, the first to go are polar bears, that we should all double our taxes to protect them, sell off all our defense weapons, retreat from Iraq and have all the first born in the republican families killed, there will be no satisfaction.

I think the Bush White House thought they were doing a good thing when they agreed to take a closer look at polar bears to see if they needed further protection – further than the “International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears” signed in 1973 by the U.S., Canada, Norway, the former USSR and Denmark, which in 1973 governed Greenland. These were the countries with polar bear populations.

The agreement outlawed unregulated hunting of the bears and banned hunting them from planes and ships. It also required the 5 countries to protect polar bear denning areas and their migration routes. They would also share any research data collected. This agreement and subsequent enforcing seems to have done a pretty good job or restoring and maintaining a world-wide polar bear population estimated at somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000.

Now the alarm button has been pushed by those fearing climate change and are demanding that the polar bear be protected by putting it on the list of “threatened” species via the Endangered Species Act. Is this really necessary? Does it really matter now whether it should or shouldn’t be listed?

I have already said that people have already made up their minds without any scientific proof, at least any they want to hear or read, that the bear must be listed and protected.

Once the Bush administration decided to take a look at the bear, advocates of global warming and animal protectionism, began salivated over the prospects that they would have another species in which they could rake in the money over. Minds were already made up they would settle for nothing less than listing as “threatened”.

Recently, Dirk Kempthorne, head of the Department of Interior, announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needed another month to finish up their studies before making any announcement. That of course, set off an eruption throughout the Bush derangement syndrome people, saying it was a stall tactic in order to fudge the books more, muddle the scientific evidence and approve more oil and natural gas drilling within the areas these people want to shut down to the outside world.

So, does it matter what the data says? Maybe there are a few still interested in that sort of thing before jumping to conclusions. There’s a website called Animal Info that contains information on endangered mammals. I took a look at what they had for information on the polar bear. If found it helpful but also a bit confusing.

Of course the first thing I wanted to find out was what the polar bear population was world wide and within specific regions. After all, we have been told by Al Gore and his ilk that the ice is melting so fast that the bear is disappearing.

According to information available on this website, ice in the polar arctic region has been decreasing over the last 30 years.

The average extent of sea ice cover in summer has declined by 15 – 20% over the past 30 years.

Looking at more specific regions, Animal Info says that the bears in the Western Hudson Bear area have declined from around 1200 to under a 1000 bears. What they don’t tell you is probably just as or more important. What they don’t tell you is what’s happening globally over the past 30 years. You have to spend some time and dig up those figures on your own.

For example, and this info comes from the same website, the estimated worldwide population of wild polar bears in 1965 was approximately 10,000. Remember, this data given here says that sea ice over the past 30 years has declined 15-20%. Thirty years ago, in 1978, the world polar bear population had grown to somewhere around 20,000. In 1972 it was estimated at 20,000 and again in 1983.

Although I am no scientist, I am going to assume that considering the state of the polar bear population prior to the 1973 signing of the pact between the five countries hosting polar bears, this jump in population from 10,000 to 20,000 was at least attributable to that.

From 1983 until 2006, the bear population has inched up and has stayed pretty consistent in the low to mid 20,000s since. Isn’t it fair to ask how can we conclude that the polar bear is disappearing? Has science concluded what happened to the 200 fewer polar bears in the Western Hudson Bay subpopulation? Did they die or did they just migrate a bit further north or find another place to den up?

Whatever the Department of Interior declares in their report, it doesn’t much matter. If the DOI determines the bear needs protecting, then we the taxpayer will have to accept that and be prepared to pay the costs. If the DOI says it doesn’t need protecting, then we the taxpayer will need to accept that and be prepared to pay the costs of lawsuits that will tie this up for decades costing taxpayers millions in unnecessary litigation costs. Either way, this debate is going to be costly.

Tom Remington

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