“But you can’t equate seeing more bears with there being more bears”

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The Inuit say there are more Polar Bears.

Everyone says there are more polar bears, and they’re not scared of us. Ten years ago, they’d run when they saw a human. Now they’re no longer shy. They keep on coming.’

The climate scientists say: Don’t believe your lying eyes.

In places such as Arviat, adds Professor Andrew Derocher of the University of Alberta, there might appear to be more bears, ‘but you can’t equate seeing more bears with there being more bears’.

Around the Arctic, polar bears ¿ estimated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature to number in total about 26,000 ¿ are divided into 19 ¿sub-population¿ groups [File photo]According to scientists, three of Canada¿s 13 bear sub-populations are in decline, including West Hudson Bay. However, a new Nunavut government bear management plan cites TEK from Inuit communities that contradict this: they say none of the bear populations are shrinking, while nine are increasing

So who is right – the scientists and campaigners or what the Nunavut government calls Inuit ‘TEK’ – traditional ecological knowledge? Despite the bears’ iconic status, it is impossible to give a definitive answer.

Scientists use two main methods to estimate the changing size of polar bear sub-populations: ‘mark and recapture’, which requires bears to be tranquillised and tagged, and aerial surveys. But both have huge margins…

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