The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its 2011 Arctic Report Card. Persistent warming has caused dramatic changes in the Arctic Ocean and the ecosystem it supports. Ocean changes include reduced sea ice and freshening of the upper ocean, and impacts such as increased biological productivity at the base of the food chain and loss of habit for walrus and polar bears. [more inside]
The Polar Bear/Grizzly Hybrid: The Ursid Hybrid cross has been attested since a hunter (with a Polar Bear license, and yes, they can be had) shot one in 2006 on Banks Island in Canada's Northwest Territories. Climate change may also play a role, causing an increasing overlap in range and mating season. Polar Bears do show a surprising resilience despite the overwhelming, increasing threats to their survival. Hunting policy itself may play a role, reducing the number of males and driving the females to mate out of season and range. The Native Inuit hunters who are permitted to hunt Polar Bears for subsistence (enabling the sport hunt, which may or may not benefit the Native economy, leading many Natives to support sport hunting) have come into sharp conflict with outside environmentalists. Welcome to the new Far North.
“I can’t express how extremely disappointed I am that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has chosen to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act," Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski said in a statement issued today. [more inside]