Canadian photographer's video of emaciated polar bear on Baffin Island goes viral: The video, shot by National Geographic photojournalist Paul Nicklen, racked up over a million views and depicted a skeletal bear foaming at the mouth and digging through a metal barrel for food on Baffin Island.
Yet, while people with cameras travel North all the time, there are no other stories that include shocking reports of emaciated, starving polar bears.
In fact, around the same time as this video came out, there was an article published in the Star about a glorious visit to Baffin Island:
Baffin Island trip like icing on Canada’s birthday cake
If "viral" means that multiple copies of the film were posted to YouTube, then that's true, but there was also one entitled: Absolutely bizarre UN media polar bear climate change hoax!!
And the strange thing is that the bear video was actually filmed in the summer, when there would naturally be no snow on Baffin Island, but the "viral" distribution was held back until December. I'm just saying ...
A good thing to do is to check out the Canadian Wildlife Federation's website. Well, what do you know; they're having a fund raiser!
I'm not going to say the CWF are the ones exploiting the polar bear, but someone seems to be - because these beautiful animals, when young and healthy, can look cuddly and can draw far more affection - and sympathy - than just about any other creature the CWF monitors.
So, if an elderly, arthritic and toothless polar bear (did you notice it wasn't really chewing whatever it found in the trash bin?) motivated you to want to give generously to the CWF, keep in mind that most of the money may well be allocated elsewhere.
One simply has to stop thinking of polar bears as little more than cute, cuddly and entertaining. They come in all sizes, temperaments, and age groups. When they're babies we go "Ahhhhhhh"; when they're young they can snap your arm off; and when they're old, they're just like the rest of us raisins.
I might also interject that perfectly healthy bears scrounge in trash bins, not because there's no other food available, but because there's a lot of good stuff in there and it's easier than having to forage elsewhere or run down some prey.
And don't forget all the sitcoms you've seen of camping trips invaded by bears who have access to all sorts of small prey but also love peanut butter and jelly - not to mention "hunny", as Pooh would say.
The National Review quotes a wildlife biologist who puts things into perspective:
The CWF offers a pdf report: [bolding is added by me]
Page 2 talks about the location where the tragically pitiful bear is said to have been video-recorded:
Page 4: When the bears come ashore in areas where the pack ice melts during the summer, they can no longer hunt seals. They live mainly on their fat stores and conserve energy by remaining inactive over 80 percent of the time. They will scavenge on carcasses if they find them, and adolescents and females accompanied by dependent young, in particular, will occasionally eat grasses and berries. Bears have even been seen diving for seaweed and trying to catch seabirds sitting on the water by swimming underwater and coming up beneath them. Very few cases of bears killing and eating caribou and muskoxen are known.
Also: Read Page 5 where there's the bit on how polar bears are, in fact, so plentiful that the Inuit are allowed quotas of around 1000 bears for meat and to profit from the sale of their skins - earning thousands of dollars. Bear meat is also sold as dog food.
Another source of information about the polar bear can be found in the "Species at Risk" pages of the Government of Canada website. One sign that there is no immediate concern is that they don't expect to have up-to-date information on Polar Bears until 2018. They do say that "climate change" may affect the polar bear population but they add that it might also benefit some populations:
They also say that the hunting quotas have not changed, and are being monitored for illegal poaching.
BUT, if polar bears truly are already starving on Baffin Island why don't the military do the same thing it's doing to deliver Christmas presents to the North - but make it slabs of fish and beef for the bears, and maybe some "hunny" too, because after all, it's Christmas time, eh?
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