- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2013

Global hysteria ensued after former Vice President Al Gore posed a theory in his film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” that polar bears were on the edge of extinction. Soon after, reports of fish shortages, cross-breeding between species and even polar bear cannibalism added to the global-warming debate.

These reports piqued the interest of Zac Unger, who wanted to become “a hero of the environmental movement,” proving how man-made global warming is affecting the polar bear population. He packed up his wife and kids and headed for Churchill, Manitoba, an isolated piece of land on the Hudson Bay in northern Canada accessible only by train or plane.

“I was going to write this mournful elegy for the polar bears, at which point I’d be hailed as the next coming of John Muir and borne aloft on the shoulders of my environmental compatriots,” he told NPR.

However, the researcher came away with a much different story, which became the premise for his new book, “Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye.”

“I started realizing polar bears were not in as bad a shape as the conventional wisdom had led me to believe,” he told NPR.

“There are far more polar bears alive today than there were 40 years ago. … In 1973, there was a global hunting ban. So once hunting was dramatically reduced, the population exploded,” Mr. Unger said.

Currently, there are an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears worldwide, and that number has increased steadily in the past 40 years since Canada, Denmark, Greenland, Norway, the United States and the former U.S.S.R. signed the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears in 1973.

A federal court threw out a government proposal last month that would have designated a 187,000-square mile area of Alaska as a critical habitat for polar bears, the Daily Caller reports. The court ruled that the plan went too far.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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