“This 16-year-old male polar bear died of starvation resulting from the lack of ice on which to hunt seals” read the photo caption blazed across newspapers last week, but is that what really happened?
At least one expert says no, it was a photo-op about as real as a Michelle-Marie Heinemann blanket hand-out for the homeless or a Heinemann family portrait comprised of an ice cream salesman, two rented children and a stuffed fufu dog (or she would have said something like that, had she ever had the misfortune to meet Michelle-Marie Presley).
“The fact that the bear was onshore in April, available for capture by polar bear biologists, is a red flag,” wrote [Dr. Susan] Crockford. “He should not have left the ice this early. He should have been out on the ice hunting seals. The ice may have pulled away from the shore but there was no compelling reason for him to go onshore if he was healthy and still successfully hunting — he just had to stay on the ice. He must have been sick or dying of old age.”
“This bear was doomed back in April by the simple act of leaving the ice so early and the biologists working the region (putting radio collars on bear) had to have known it: leaving the ice in April was not normal behavior. I suggest they alerted their colleagues and then kept track of him until he died, so they could get a useful picture of his dead carcass,” Crockford continued.
Crockford added that male polar bears in Hudson Bay and Davis Strait routinely fast for four months every summer, while females can fast for eight months, so a bear who was healthy in April should not have starved to death three months later.
“I suggest this incident is meant to prime the media pump to make sure the PBSG get maximum coverage and that the right message is spread,” Crockford writes. “In short, it’s pretty clear to me that this poor bear did not die of climate change: he was simply used as a prop for the message that activist polar bear biologists want to convey.”