January 17, 2009

No consensus at Canadian polar bear summit

The first Canadian federal summit on the environmental plight of polar bears has concluded with considerable differences of opinion in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice hosted the meeting of scientists, wildlife officials and Inuit leaders, the Globe and Mail reported Saturday.

Canada is home to about 15,000 polar bears, about two-thirds of the world population, in 13 distinct areas. While the United States declared the bears an endangered species in May 2008, Gabriel Nirlungayuk, director of Wildlife for Nunavut Tunngavik said the bears are actually more prolific now.

Forty or 50 years ago, our camping areas were not invaded by these animals, he said Friday. The current population is stable. It is not constructive to exaggerate that situation.

Harry Flaherty, chair of the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, agreed and said scientists were politicizing the bears' status.

They are using the polar bear as a tool, a tool to fight climate change, Flaherty said. Hey shouldn't do that. The polar bear will survive. It has been surviving for thousands of years.