Saturday, December 08, 2007

Polar bears on the brink?

Interesting article in the London Daily Mail about a film crew doing a new documentary, "Polar Bear Week", about the bears around Churchill, Manitoba. One member of the crew, Dennis Compayre, is a life-long resident of Churchill who has been around the bears for decades:
Dennis Compayre raises bushy grey eyebrows as he listens to the environmentalists predict the polar bear's demise.

"They say the numbers are down from 1,200 to around 900, but I think I know as much about polar bears as anyone, and I tell you there are as many bears here now as there were when I was a kid," he says as the tundra buggy rattles back to town across the rutted snowscape.

"Churchill is full of these scientists going on about vanishing bears and thinner bears.

"They come here preaching doom, but I question whether some of them really have the bears' best interests at heart.

"The bear industry in Churchill is big bucks, and what better way to keep people coming than to tell them they'd better hurry to see the disappearing bears."

The man doing the filming had some insights, too:
After almost three months of working with those who know the Arctic best - among them Inuit Indians, who are appalled at the way an animal they have lived beside for centuries has become a poster species for "misinformed" Greens - Nigel Marven finds himself in broad agreement.

"I think climate change is happening, but as far as the polar bear disappearing is concerned, I have never been more convinced that this is just scaremongering.

"People are deliberately seeking out skinny bears and filming them to show they are dying out. That's not right.

"Of course, in 30 years, if there's no ice over the North Pole, then the bear will be in trouble.

"But I've seen enough to know that polar bears are not yet on the brink of extinction."

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