Setanta
 
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 08:22 am
I just heard a discussion on the radio of the possibility that polar bears will need to be fed as sea ice disappears. One of the experts (?) interviewed stated that black and brown bears are already being fed, and that there were other instances of endangered populations being fed.

I wonder, then, what people here think of this. I'm not trying to ambush anyone, so here's what i thought initially as i heard this program. I have read that several thousand years ago, the Arctic Ocean was ice-free in summer. As there was no sea ice then, what did polar bears do? I suspect that no one intentionally fed them, and i suspect that Thule culture and Dorset culture Eskimos had no interest in feeding them, either with intent or by unfortunate accident. Species go extinct all the time, and i don't think we do well to attempt to interfere.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 9 • Views: 4,709 • Replies: 49
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 10:59 am
@Setanta,
we always get all touchy about evolution, as if it were an end point. Ursas "maritimus" ws evolved not principally for ICE living but for water living. Look at its nostrils, eye settings, eras, and webbed feet. Any bear can develop wite fur after but a few generations based on adaptation and success of phenotypes .
I say, let the experiment continue unaided. If we **** with the species whats the point? saving fuzzy white coca cola symbols?

0 Replies
 
Falco
 
  2  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 11:05 am
@Setanta,
Using the very best of today's available carbon source, such as oil, and advanced manufacturing technology, it is very easy to produce enough plastic to cover large swaths of the Arctic sea. After all, plastic floats, it's durable (as evident by all plastic bags surviving for decades and more in the sea), can be made in a suitable ice-looking color, could be made with holes for that refreshing morning dip and can be made strong enough at relatively limited thickness to take a whole family of polar bears as well as for seals to give birth to their cubs during spring. Could this be a solution!? ;-D
saab
 
  2  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 11:20 am
@Falco,
Every icebear needs about 30-40 seals to cover the 70-80% of their energy intake. So whoever is going to feed them need to hunt for that amount of seals, which probably will get the seal friends to demonstrate "STOP KILLING SEALS"
On the other hand the seals are getting closer to populated areas to find food. On Greenland one broke into a store and started to eat Nutella.
Maybe we could start collecting our leftovers and simply feed the bears in areas far away from populated areas.
Falco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 12:01 pm
@saab,
Just pure pleasantry from me it was.
Take ping pong balls, for example, to make a semi floating structure that over a large enough surface area should be able to hold the distributed weight of a few polar bears.
Melted summer Arctic ice = 4,000,000 km2 = 4,000,000,000,000 m²
Number of 40mm ping-pong balls in 1 square metre with hex packing
= pi/6 * sqrt(3);
= (1000/40)² * pi/6 * sqrt(3) = 567 ping pong balls per square meter.
567 * 4,000,000,000,000
= 2,268,000,000,000,000 ping-pong balls...
22 million ping-pong balls / 1 jumbo jet:
= 2,268,000,000,000,000 / 22,000,000
= 103,090,909 jumbo jets. Shocked

Ignoring the environmental carnage that this would create, such as ingestion, transpiration interference and wind making mountains of them all around the coasts, the logistics of making that many balls would be astronomical in raw materials extraction, processing and manufacture, storage, transportation and deployment, and the carbon footprint involved to make that happen, so forget it! Laughing
0 Replies
 
saab
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 12:11 pm
Maybe we could export our beef/horse meat to the icebears?
On the other hand there is not enough fat in it.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 12:17 pm
@saab,
In Churchill they come inland and take over all sorts of land based activities.

most of the losses of polar bear communities have come from overhunting.

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Falco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 12:39 pm
@saab,
If this is really the case, you do understand that this "feeding plan" should just a short term solution, otherwise they'll loose a lot of their natural hunting abilities and become dependent on humans.

Then again this could be an exaggeration. Polar Bear Specialist Group estimate on the population decline of polar bears is in dispute. PBSG uses helicopter counts over limited areas to "project" a number. As farmerman touched upon, close monitoring and strictly curbing hunting should be the first step in keeping these animals from going extinct.
saab
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 01:48 pm
@Falco,
No, I am not for feeding the bears.
Any wild animal has to learn and adopt to its enviroment whatever it is wild nature or a special area.
When icebears do not hunt seals there will be an overpopulation of seals and an underpopulation of fish etc etc etc.
Watch and see -
roger
 
  2  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 02:06 pm
@saab,
Unfortunately, in many areas in the US, coyotes have adapted to their environment by moving into cities and towns. I guess we're lucky we don't have a lot of polar bears this far south, cuz there's not that many seals in my town. Just me, the cats, and the neighbors' kids.
saab
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 02:59 pm
@roger,
I live direct by the ocean and the seagulls are in no way disturing.
In the city they have become a pest. They are loud as their screams ecco inbetween the houses. They atack people, eat out of wastbaskets and spread the waste.

A town i Germany is called the Racoon Capital. There are so many recaoons and people feed them because theey are so cute.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 05:33 pm
@saab,
you can thank the "columbian exchange" for racoons in Germany
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 07:25 pm
@farmerman,
For once I don't understand you, fm - what are you saying? Dope and all that and raccoons?
Lola
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 08:32 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
Species go extinct all the time, and i don't think we do well to attempt to interfere.


I don't know, but I'm here to read and learn.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 09:53 pm
@ossobuco,
The "Columbian Exchange" is a term of a happening that , blame it on Columbus, was responsible for all the good and bad stuff from Europe invade the Americas( stuff like smallpox, earthworms, horses, and chickens) and all the good and bad stuff from the Americas invade Europe (stuff like corn, chilis, potatoes, racoons,turkeys,). Much was introduced into each's unsuspecting natural environment , and all this just thrived and took off)

Its , in effect, still going on but we dont call it the Columbian Exchange anymore, its just "accidental introduction".
Racoons were introduced to Europe fairly recently and, of course, snake head fish were introduced to the Americas from Asia via Greece.

There are two really good books by Charles MAnn on the subject one called "1491" and the other "1493". Theyre kinda like books by David Quammen or Winchester's writing ( phrenetically dense and all over the map), but theyre both worth the investment in time
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 02:46 am
For Saab, and anyone else who may be interested, the "expert" being interviewed about feeding the bears (who said they already feed brown and black bears in Europe, especially in Poland)--they weren't talking about hunting to provide the bears what they eat in the wild, they were talking about feeding them "bear chow," i.e., a commercially produced food made from ordinary agri-business crop sources. Kinda like Purina Bear Chow, except i don't know if Purina produces anything like that.
saab
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 03:40 am
@Setanta,
I would say that if we feed a wild animal - in this case icebears - with food which does not need to be hunted the animals will maybe loose their ability to hunt.
We know that we cannot send zoo animals out in the wild nature.
I tried to look up about feeding bears on wikipedia. In Swedish
was nothing but don´t feed bears. That will attract them to humans.
How about that bear chow? Does it have a smell of humans? If that is the case will then this make the bears feel attrackted to humans?
I cannot find anything about feeding in Europe, but will ask a friend who is a hunter if he knows anything about it.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 03:45 am
I know Falco was being facetious, but there is a good point to be made about the interdependence of species. Replacing the ice floes would not solve the problem of feeding the bears. As the climate warms, the seals are going to move north to find environmental conditions to which they are already adapted. This can be seen as it affected humans in the past, and not just bears.

At the time that the Norse colonized Greenland, North American aboriginals had not yet reached Greenland, but the Norse encountered them on the coast of North America, in what we now call Labrador and Newfoundland. There were two distinct cultures. In the days before the PC gestapo arrived, they were known as the Thule culture Eskimos, and the Dorset culture Eskimos. The Dorsets were named for an island in the Canadian arctic called Dorset, where the first archaeological remains were found.

The Dorsets had become highly specialized in seal hunting. The archaeological sites where the remains of their culture have been found exactly track the climate changes which occurred during the time when their culture flourished. As the "Little Ice Age" descended upon the North Atlantic between about 500 BCE and 500 CE, they moved south, following the seals who moved south with the cold currents from the Davis Straits and into the cold Labrador current. The Dorsets were around long before that period, but i'm talking about archaeological sites so far identified. The Dorsets followed the seals south, and that is how they arrived in what we call Newfoundland. When the Norse explored the coast of Labrador and arrived in Newfoundland, they encountered the Dorsets, but although neither the Norse nor the Dorsets knew it, the Dorsets were already doomed.

The Norse had arrived at roughly the height of the Little Climactic Optimum, when the climate warmed between about 700 CE and 1200 CE. The settlement of Greenland began in 985, and the one big attempt to colonize Newfoundland took place within a few years of 1000 CE, probably about 1002 or 1003. When the climate warmed, the seals began moving north again to stay in the cold ocean currents--they whelped their pups on ice floes in early spring, and the archaeological record shows that the Dorsets routinely followed them north or south as the climate varied. But by 1000, the Thule culture Eskimos had arrived at the coast of Labrador. They didn't live on the coast, because there was little to attract them, but they were present just inland.

The Thule culture people were very aggressive, and they acted as a barrier to prevent the Dorsets from following the seals as they moved north. The archaeological evidence is that the Dorsets began to use the caribou (those are what the Europeans call reindeer) which then migrated up and down the Long Range Mountains of Newfoundland in herds numbering in the thousands. The evidence is, though, that it wasn't an acceptable substitute for the Dorsets, who disappear from the archaeological record soon after 1000 CE. When the Norse encountered the Dorests, and, in their typical, charming way, attacked them, the Dorsets fought back, but as soon as they could, they escaped, never to return. When Thorvald Eiriksson and his crew encountered some Thule culture people on the shores of Lake Melville in Labrador, they decided they must be outlawed people (on no very good evidence), so they decided to kill them. One of them escaped. The Thule culture people were not like the Dorsets, though. The next morning, the Norse were awakened by a sentry, and saw dozens of skin boats approaching, and the Thules attacked them relentlessly. The Norse managed to get underway and soon escaped their tormentors, but Thorvald had been fatally wounded, and died a few hours later. The Dorsets, unable to compete with the Thule, and not being the hunting generalists that the Thule were, went down the road to extinction.

It doesn't matter what one might do for the polar bears. As the climate changes, the seals are going to disappear from their habitat. If there is sufficient climate change, the pelagic seals upon which the polar bears rely (and upon which the Dorsets once relied) may themselves disappear altogether.

Unless, of course, the species hand wringers run up north with a large supply of Purina Pelagic Seal Chow. One of the reasons i think it is a mistake to attempt to intervene is that it's not just a case of feeding the polar bears--when their environment changes, it changes for every other species who live there, too.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 06:21 am
@Setanta,
I feel like it's a hopeless endeavor to try to save things when their natural environment no longer (or soon to be) exists. It makes those things unnatural, and reduces the grandeur of a wild animal to that of another herd beast for humanity.

When one species goes away, it simply makes room for another species to move into the niche. This may not happen in our lifetime, but it's the natural order of things regardless of what causes the environment to change. Even now there may be small populations of some other predator waiting to take the place of Polar Bears, and be a better fit for the new environment. That's how Polar Bears, and all species arose.

On the other hand, my daughter likes Polar Bears and I would like for her to be able to see them (preferably in the wild, but if that's not possible... ) live someday. So maybe it's worth it to save them just for humanity's entertainment.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 08:07 am
@rosborne979,
I look at it more from a sense of curiosity of species identity and development. Ringed seals, which are the polar bears chief prey in the peri-oceanic ice cap, have evolved into several subspecies , including two that have become adapted to fresh water lakes.
Polar bears and brownies share the major genetic codes and have the stock for further subspeciation (As long as environmental changes dont occur so quickly that they cannot adapt)

I think, should global climate change extend for the next ten millenia, that poar/brown bears will continue to adapt and evolve .
Imagine a full "Sea bear" . If we recall, the whale was once a hoofed animal
 

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