Montreal Gazette
Jan 10, 2011

Polar bears are a global symbol of the threat posed by climate change but, at the same time, many observers say there are more of them roaming around than there were 30 years ago.

“The population is booming,” says Willy Aglukkaq, a guide and outfitter in the Inuit community of Gjoa Haven, who is seeing plenty of bears in the central Arctic.

No one can say with certainly how many bears there are and how healthy the populations are, and biologists say it is time Canada did a lot more to find out given the threats the bears face and the international attention they command.

“Without a doubt we need more monitoring,” says Andrew Derocher, at the University of Alberta, a world authority on polar bears.

Part of the problem is that the animals, often described as the largest terrestrial carnivore, spend most of their time on the sea ice in vast uninhabited areas.

“There are a few towns and the occasional hunter, but generally speaking, polar bears are where polar bears want to be, which is not the case for most terrestrial carnivores,” says de Groot, noting the bears are well off compared to planet’s tigers, leopards and lions.

Full article here