Polar bears sighted a little too close for comfortNorth Dakotans driving through the Badlands are used to seeing deer, elk, coyotes and if they’re lucky the occasional big horn sheep, but according to a new report, residents may be in for a bigger surprise.
By: John Odermann, The Dickinson Press
North Dakotans driving through the Badlands are used to seeing deer, elk, coyotes and if they’re lucky the occasional big horn sheep, but according to a new report, residents may be in for a bigger surprise.
According to a U.S. Bureau of Animal and Wildlife Reclamation report released Tuesday, polar bears are making their way to southwestern North Dakota, and a family of them was recently spotted in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
“It’s all part of this greater cooler trend sweeping through northern North America,” said Brian Wilkerson, chief of wildlife management for the BAWR. “Even though they can survive the cold, these ‘Lords of the Arctic’ — as they’re called — have found their food sources abandoning that region and have slowly moved south over the last few years.”
Wilkerson said his department received advanced warnings from authorities in Saskatchewan who noticed the southern migrations in 2005, but added he never thought they would actually come as far south as North Dakota or Montana.
Global warming groups have pointed to the southern migration as proof the climate is in dire straights.
“This goes to show how cold the winters have gotten over the past couple of years,” said Peter Cross, spokesperson for Humans for Climate Protection, a group which focuses on the impact climate change has on wildlife. “First we had polar bears floating out to sea on chunks of ice to die and now they have to abandon their homes? It’s just more proof we need to stop global warming at all costs.”
Wilkerson said climate change activists need to cool down like the weather has.
“That’s ridiculous,” Wilkerson said. “First of all, polar bears can swim several hours and secondly their numbers may see a lift from having an abundance of food around.”
Calls to the North Dakota Game and Fish to see how the introduction of a new predator would affect wildlife in the region were not immediately returned.
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