The dramatic signs of global warming's impact on the Arctic are everywhere these days, but an event last fall in a small Canadian town 100 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle has to rate as one of the most poignant. According to Canada's Globe and Mail, last November three polar bears--a mother and her two cubs--showed up in downtown Déline. The bears should have been far, far north on the pack ice but for some reason never made it, and the mother (who we can only assumed was either badly disoriented or desperate) instead turned south.
All three bears were killed. Polar bears can be dangerous under the best of circumstances and apparently the Royal Canadian Mounted Police didn't want to take any chances. An investigation of the bodies revealed that they were all starving to death.
An assessment by noted Canadian biologist and polar bear expert Andrew Derocher [said] that the sighting is yet another sign of climate change in Canada's North. Normally, these polar bears would be living on sea ice, which is located more than 400 kilometres north on the Beaufort Sea.
We'll never know why this one mother polar bear took her cubs so tragically off course, but I tend to agree with Dr. Derocher that the rapid changes to the Arctic ecosystem is probably as good a candidate as any. Let's hope this incident is received as another wake up call about global warming, and not just another of its sad codas.