North

Former Nunavut biologist should've been invited to meeting: NTI

A former polar bear biologist with the Nunavut government should have been invited to an international meeting of scientists, said a wildlife official with Nunavut's Inuit organization.

A former polar bear biologist with the Nunavut government should have been invited to an international meeting of scientists, regardless of his views on climate change, said a wildlife official with Nunavut's Inuit organization.

Mitch Taylor, who retired from the Nunavut government after working three decades in the North, was denied an invitation from the Polar Bear Specialist Group's latest meeting, since his opinions about climate change are inconsistent with those of the rest of the group.

Last weekend's meeting brought together the world's leading polar bear researchers in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Taylor said he believes climate change is driven mainly by natural cycles, not by human-made pollution such as greenhouse gases.

But he was told by the group's then-chairman that "views that run counter to human-induced climate change are extremely unhelpful."

But whatever view Taylor holds, he should have been invited to the meeting because of his experience in Canada's North, said Gabriel Nirlungayuk, wildlife director with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

"Obviously, Mitch Taylor has some interest [in] polar bears over the past with his work, and people know him, including [those in] N.W.T. and Nunavut," he told CBC News on Monday.

Nirlungayuk, who attended the conference, said Taylor oversaw several of the polar bear population surveys in Nunavut that were discussed in Copenhagen.

That work was referred to several times during the gathering, he added.

The Polar Bear Specialist Group issued eight recommendations from the Copenhagen meeting, including:

  • Taking action globally to reduce greenhouse gases.
  • Reassessing the polar bear population in the Baffin Bay area shared between Canada and Greenland.
  • Reassessing the status of polar bears in Canada sooner, and with climate change in mind.
  • More studies into polar bear populations and the effects of climate change on polar bears.

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