Polar bear population counts are estimates only, derived from the most “rudimentary” of scientific knowledge and made up largely to meet the expectations of the public, researchers said in an email to a science blogger.
Dag Vongraven, chairman of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Polar Bear Specialist Group, sent an email to Polar Bear Science blogger Susan Crockford to clarify that a report that’s about to go public to give updates on the animal’s worldwide population level contains estimates, not hard facts.
“As part of past status reports, the PBSG has traditionally estimated a range for the total number of polar bears in the circumpolar Arctic. Since 2005, this range has been 20-25,000,” the email citing the report’s footnote stated, Newsmax said. “It is important to realize that this range never has been an estimate of total abundance in a scientific sense, but simply a qualified guess given to satisfy public demand. It is also important to note that even though we have scientifically valid estimates for a majority of the subpopulations, some are dated.”
The emailed note also said that researches only have limited knowledge when it comes to the population count of the bears, Newsmax reported.
“Consequently, there is either no, or only rudimentary, knowledge to support guesses about the possible abundance of polar bears in approximately half the areas they occupy,” the note stated, Newsmax reported. “Thus, the range given for total global population should be viewed with great caution as it cannot be used to assess population trend over the long term.”