Why do some people say there are more polar bears than ever?
The number of polar bears worldwide is not increasing. Some populations are recovering after their numbers were vastly reduced by uncontrolled hunting in the 1960s, but that potential for growth is running head first into declining carrying capacity in some regions due to loss of sea ice habitat. Learn more in our Scientist Q & A.
Related to this, residents of many communities in Hudson Bay are seeing more polar bears. These polar bears are increasingly getting into food caches, entering camps, and posing risks to communities and residents. The observation that “people are seeing more bears in and around sites of human activities” is real evidence of a change from the past conditions northern residents knew.
Western science-based knowledge/evidence shows that in the Hudson Bay system, polar bear body condition has been declining, bears are having fewer cubs, fewer cubs are surviving after birth, and the population size has declined.
These two different pieces of knowledge/evidence are easy to integrate: As malnourished bears spend more time on land for longer periods, more are venturing into settlements where they are looking for food, leading to increased polar bear-human conflicts. Learn more.