Photographers' Blog

Exclusive photos: Polar bear turns cannibal

December 8, 2009

(Updated at 9.30 ET on Dec 9, 2009)

Some pictures need little introduction. They stop you in your tracks. These are exclusive pictures to Reuters of a Canadian polar bear eating a cub that it killed and cannibalized.

A global study released in 2008 suggests that climate change has turned some polar bears into cannibals. However, a local Inuit leader told journalists that a male polar bear eating a cub is a normal occurrence.

CANADA/

CANADA/

Comments
21 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

What drives me crazy about these debates is the length that the Climategate people will go to in order to drive home a point. It’s so easy to dispel sometimes. Is this a male or female bear? Bet it’s a male. Go to wikipedia and look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_bear.   Here’s what it says: “Adult male bears males occasionally kill and eat polar bear cubs,[68] for reasons that are unclear.” So much for being driven out of their homes. Their population has grown by 5 times in the last three decades. Find a new poster child people.

Posted by BobV | Report as abusive
 

This from National Geographic “Females aggressively protect their young, but receive no help from their solitary male mates. In fact, male polar bears may even kill young of their species.”

So what you have published in no way reflects global warming but rather the natural order of things.

Posted by Chutter | Report as abusive
 

“the animal that has come to represent global warming is turning cannibalistic”.
Whoever is part of the “US-led global scientific study” can count himself as one of the biggest idiots to ever get any grant money, or to get any attention by a useless media.
These people should be ashamed for trying to sway opinion in such a manner. The polar bear has always been a vicious animal, and has always been known to eat young cubs. Sometimes mothers who reject their cubs will eat them, and they are always in need of protection against the male adults.
How shameless, and it takes all credibility away from these groups who claim to be so knowledgeable and intelligent.

Posted by doughpro | Report as abusive
 

β€œAs the world focuses on the Climate Change summit in Copenhagen, the animal that has come to represent global warming is turning cannibalistic as the Arctic ice melts their hunting grounds, a U.S.-led global scientific study said.”
Good grief! If U.S.-led global scientists will make a statement like this, can you believe anything they say?
Male bears will kill cubs in an effort to bring the female into estrus, and will eat the body to make best use of the nutrition.

Posted by jr123 | Report as abusive
 

Polar bear population is NOT documented to be increasing. Most populations are declining or stable. One of the things that drives me crazy about deniers is how they always, always, always just make up their “facts.”

http://pbsg.npolar.no/en/status/status-t able.html

Posted by deaddrift | Report as abusive
 

That said, however, I agree that is likely that this picture shows a commonplace event in which a male is eating a cub.

Posted by deaddrift | Report as abusive
 

It’s a shame that both the proponents and opponents use selective truths to further their political agenda over something that should be discussed only in terms of scientific data. This would be raw data that can be evaluated by the skeptics as well as the easily led. Something is happening to our environment and everyone sits around debating the best way to put out the fire, “Ahh, water, no sand, no chemicals, no oxygen depravation.” In the meantime, the house continues to burn.

Posted by eztobeme | Report as abusive
 

You mean the polar bear acts like other creatures in the wild? Like the lion, where the male lion will kill other males’ cubs so that it can have the females be receptive to having the new male’s cubs. Watch my lips. . . your emotional appeals, cooking the books and fear tactics will not work on me, and a growing number of people across the world, the gig is up, and you will pay dearly for your lies and deceit.

It is undeniable that science has become compromised. It is now being used daily as a propaganda tool. If groups of scientists don’t start standing up to this and cleaning these frauds out they will have damaged their ability to acquire funding due to credibility issues. If science has no credibility who will give them money?

Posted by whatthe | Report as abusive
 

I have got to agree with the teabaggers and the birthers, much as I hate to – this article and these photos are misguided, inaccurate sensationalism worthy of Fox TV news. And this is REUTERS???? Come on, we depend on Reuters to give us accurate, factual, unbiased reporting. Great photos too.

Yes, cannibalism by polar bears is well known and is not a result of Bush having been in office for 8 years. He and Cheney were however responsible for the murder of Bambi’s mother.

Posted by Terribilissimo | Report as abusive
 

Deaddrift: the graph you used was from 2005. If you checked on the FACTS of a more current source: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/p-j-gladnic k/2009/06/28/polar-bear-testimony-suppre ssed-due-inconvenient-truths you would see that the polar bears are doing just fine. And you talk about making up facts. Stop deinking the Klimate-kooks-koolaid and researching for yourself. Maybe we can feed the climate-kooks to the polar bears…

Posted by MadMtnScot | Report as abusive
 

You people have flat out lost it! And you blame Republicans for “fear-mongering”??? Of course, facts do not get in your way to accomplish your idiotic agenda, so keep drinking the Kool-Aid and pay no attention to the guy behind the curtain…

…as sheep being led to the slaughter

Posted by stockwizard | Report as abusive
 

Really, deadbrain??

Dr Mitchell Taylor has been researching the status and management of polar bears in Canada and around the Arctic Circle for 30 years, as both an academic and a government employee. More than once since 2006 he has made headlines by insisting that polar bear numbers, far from decreasing, are much higher than they were 30 years ago. Of the 19 different bear populations, almost all are increasing or at optimum levels, only two have for local reasons modestly declined.

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/p-j-gladnic k/2009/06/28/polar-bear-testimony-suppre ssed-due-inconvenient-truths

I know, stop posting facts that you do not agree with. Sorry…i know, 2+2 does equal 5…yes, keep saying it to yourself!!!

Posted by stockwizard | Report as abusive
 

To the person that said that melting ice would result in more food for the bears. The ice that is melting is over the open ocean. Melting ice will not result in a tundra habitat that will provide caribou for bears to eat. Polar bears rely on seals that bear young in air pockets in this ice. If it melts, there is nothing left for them. During the summer months when the ice recedes, the bears basically wait hungrily and live off of their fat, waiting for the ice to freeze over so they can hunt seals again. Please watch a documentary or read up on this stuff before making any claims!

Posted by ihillway | Report as abusive
 

Wow, that is downright scary dude! Can you imagine!

RT
http://www.web-anonymity.se.tc

Posted by vvtempo | Report as abusive
 

Ouch that looks like it could hurt maybe a lil bit! LOL!
LB
http://www.ecigarettesinc.com

Posted by johnkilmy | Report as abusive
 

stockwizard, your link http://newsbusters.org/blogs/p-j-gladnic k/2009/06/28/polar-bear-testimony-suppre ssed-due-inconvenient-truths did not show any data about, and it does not have the sense of authoritative research rather than more propaganda. Moreover, THAT article didn’t cite ANY data, or link to any authoritative sources (by which I mean peer-reviewed journals or scientific societies).

People everywhere carrying signs
Mostly saying “hooray for our side”

This Reuters piece is a travesty; that horse is dead and buried, no need to whip it further.

deaddrift posted a link http://pbsg.npolar.no/en/status/status-t able.html to real data. True, it only ran to 2005. The excellent point is made by these data that many polar bear enclaves need to be measured – one group might increase while another decreases.

Posted by Terribilissimo | Report as abusive
 

Oh yeah, Reuters’ failure to post a correction to their MISINFORMATION makes them fall to the level of a tabloid. You guys are *NOT* helping anything!

Posted by Terribilissimo | Report as abusive
 

This link has a few more pictures and a pretty clear statement of the photographer’s intentions:
http://blogs.reuters.com/photo/2009/12/0 9/close-quarters-with-a-cannibal/#commen t-341628

Posted by JJ999 | Report as abusive
 

Polar bears have been observed cannibalizing each other since at least 1977.

http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arct ic52-3-307.pdf

Posted by Reace | Report as abusive
 

I am the photographer who took these images.

I wanted to try and document photographically how changing environmental conditions is affecting local wildlife.

It is true that polar bears can and do kill cubs, however, this activity is not frequent. Polar bear scientists have indicated that cases of infanticide are becoming more frequent as sea ice generation is delayed.

The photographs are not meant to indicate or suggest global warming (natural or human-induced) in anyway. Sea ice generation or lack of can be caused by a variety of environmental stimuli. I am not a glaciologist so can not comment on this subject.

The photographs document animal behavior and how animals are altering their behavior to climate-induced conditions. According to polar bear scientists, infanticide is increasing from past years.

It was just coincidence that I discovered the the climate change summit was being held at this time.

I trust this clears up any concerns.

Posted by Anaspides | Report as abusive
 
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/