Alaska polar bear den disturbances part of ‘death by a thousand cuts,’ researcher says

A female polar bear and cub. (File photo)
An extensive study of how Alaska’s oil industry can disturb denning polar bears is featured in a recent edition of the journal ARCTIC.

It says that at the same time as climate change is melting sea ice and forcing polar bears to spend more time on land, they are increasingly vulnerable to disturbances from development on the North Slope.

The study’s authors say current requirements for industry to stay at least one mile from known polar bear dens are working.

But they’ve also found that the industry’s current den-detection methods miss more than half of the dens.

And they say all of this is particularly troubling with seismic testing ramping up in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

One of the study’s authors is Wesley Larson, a researcher at Brigham Young University and a scientific advisor to Polar Bears International.

Larson spoke to Alaska Public Media’s Casey Grove, and he says the fact that polar bears live in an area rich with oil and gas invariably puts the bears and humans into conflict.

Listen to the interview with Wesley Carson here.

Related stories from around the North:

Antarctica: South Pole warmed 3 times the global rate over the past 30 years, new study suggests, Thomson Reuters

Arctic: Ice-free Arctic summers likely by 2050, even with climate action: study, Radio Canada International

WMO: Latest projections show “enormous challenge” ahead in meeting climate targets says WMO, Eye on the Arctic

Canada: Indigenous leaders in northwestern Canada declare climate emergency, CBC News

Finland: Finland behind on sustainable development goals, Yle News

Greenland: Greenland climate research station under threat from permafrost thaw, Irene Quaile, Ice Blog

Iceland: Ice-free Arctic summers likely by 2050, even with climate action: study, Radio Canada International

Norway: Norway to expand network of electric car chargers across Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Record 38C temperature recorded in Arctic Siberia, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: January temperatures about 10°C above normal in parts of northern Sweden, says weather service, Radio Sweden

United States: Temperatures nearing all-time records in Southcentral Alaska, Alaska Public Media

Casey Grove, Alaska Public Media

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