We May Have to Feed Polar Bears

Group outlines measures in new article

Adam Roy

Humans may have to resort to feeding polar bears—and possibly even relocating some populations north—as sea ice continues to decline, a group of twelve prominent bear researchers have warned in a new article in Conservation Biology.

Andy Derocher, a polar bear biologist at the University of Alberta, said that flying in loads of meat for the bears could keep some groups around for another decade or two; however, he told Yale’s Environment 360 blog that it would be a stopgap solution at best.

In Derocher’s view, feeding and relocation will only work for polar bears so long as they have some habitat remaining, which is unlikely in the next century if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed dramatically. “Keeping hundreds of semi-wild bears on a diet of bear chow doesn’t fit my personal philosophy, but perhaps centuries from now, it will be viewed as visionary, if we eventually control those greenhouse gases,” Derocher says.

Derocher and co-authors Ian Stirling and Steve Amstrup emphasized that the ideas in the article are still just suggestions: Some of the solutions, such as intervention feeding, would require legislative changes to be put into effect. Arctic sea ice has declined steadily over the past several years.

In September 2012, ice coverage around the North Pole hit a new record low of 1.32 million square miles.

Via Environment 360