1 Introduction</h5> Polar bears ( Ursus maritimus ) span the circumpolar Arctic, with an estimated 20,000–25,000 bears inhabiting 19 populations across 5 range states ( Obbard et al., 2010 ). Although there are significant gaps in basic demographic information from portions of their range ( Obbard et al., 2010 ), the Western Hudson Bay population (WH) in Canada ranks as one of the most intensively studied large mammal populations worldwide, with a research program dating back more than 4 decades ( Jonkel et al., 1972; Stirling et al., 1977; Derocher and Stirling, 1995a; Regehr et al., 2007 ).</P>Scientific evidence from the long-term capture and tagging program in WH suggests that the abundance of polar bears increased during the 1970s, remained stable for a period in the 1980s, and decreased by about 22% between 1984 and 2004 ( Derocher and Stirling, 1995a; Lunn et al., 1997; Regehr et al., 2007 ). The recent decline in abundance has been attributed to earlier sea ice breakup in Hudson Bay ( Regehr et al., 2007 ). This trend in sea ice breakup and the resultant extension of the ice-free season have forced bears to spend longer periods on land without access to
Biological Conservation – elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2014
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