Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Polar Bear's Fight To Survive

A Polar Bear's Fight To Survive

According to most evidence gathered by researchers and scientists everywhere, the phenomenon known as global warming is quickly killing off most polar bears. This is not some shaky sort of story either, something built upon an edifice of stilts and other various things and not supportable like objects.

No, according to The Wall Street Journal, these bears are in fact drowning in their own native oceans because of this menace known as global warming. Polar bear drowning used to be so rare that it was rarely at all observed and almost never at all reported. Government agencies are not quick to comment on what might be the cause of the growing climatic and ecological changes.

One does not really need to see much more than the floating dead bodies of polar bears to gain a keen insight into the effect that climatic change is having upon the environment as a whole. Environmentalists who have studied the problem have indicated that government policies towards oil and energy resources have instigated or at least contributed to the deaths of polar bears. Since polar bears have evolved to the point of only hunting on ice and other cold regions, scientists predict that they will go extinct within the next one hundred years, if not sooner.

With less ground to hunt on, they have a smaller source of food to support their populations and thus they will soon die out. There have been so many tragic photographs taken of polar bears clinging desperately to little ice floes that they must call home, that many people desire to do something.

Since the polar bear is designed by nature with not only one but two layers of fur, it is able to survive extremely cold conditions. In fact, they can survive conditions nearing fifty below Fahrenheit - which is exactly why global warming will have such a terrible effect on this beloved species. Their entire body, from their ears to their tails to their manner of hunting is entirely dependent on cold climatic conditions. If everything continues on in the manner predicted by most scientists, then the polar bears may hold no hope. Government agencies are as of now debating heatedly to discuss whether or not to put polar bears on the endangered species list.

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By: Neal Hamou

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Polar Bear Faces Extinction

The Polar Bear Faces Extinction
by Jerome_Exner
It should be no secret to anyone that the Arctic "Polar Bear" is facing some of its most drastic climate changes it has been through, since its existence. The ice-packs which these animals live on is being melted away by green-house gases, and more commonly referred to by most as "Global Warming".

As our earth's climate warms, these ice-packs are melted and broken apart making it harder for the polar bear to find its food. This causes the polar bear to swim great distances, in order to hunt for its next meal. Wildlife conservationists have actually seen polar bears drown because they just couldn't make it to the nearest ice flow.

Recent study shows that the polar bear populations are declining at an alarming rate. Fewer cubs are being sited every year, which means that their reproductive cycle is being effected also. This animal is slowly being starved to the brink of extinction.

To save the polar bear, we have to start thinking about reducing green house gas emissions. We must find other means to fuel our economy, which could diminish the effects of global warming through time, and lessen our dependence on "fossil fuels".

The polar bear is not the only one of the species in this habitat which are being affected. The Walrus, seal, arctic fox, arctic hare, and many others are being affected also. Oil exploration in the northern regions should be stopped, stopping the potential for human error, and thus preserving our environment.

How far will we push our environment without looking back to see the effects it has incurred, and devastation it has caused.

To conclude, Global Warming is a very serious issue in todays fast paced world we live in, lets "hope" that it is recognized globally and dealt with by our politicians and governments because after all, they are the people who can truly make a difference.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Saving the Polar Bear

Saving the Polar Bear
By Alastair Harris
One of the signs of global warming and an oft quoted example is the fact that polar bears are drowning in the arctic. Polar bears are at the top of the arctic food chain and feed mainly on seals although they do adapt to being omnivores particularly when around places of human activity - like garbage dumps.

The largest of the bears a large white polar bear is a site to behold. A polar bear will sit for hours above a seal's blow hole waiting for a sign of a seal at which point it will use its huge weight to smash through the ice to catch, kill and eat a seal.

Polar bears are also known for swimming huge distances between ice berges and ice packs. The problem with the great melt in the arctic circle it that these distances are know becoming even too great for the once mightly polar bear.

Many would say the only solution to preventing the polar bear from extinction is to breed them in captivity in zoos and the like. Whilst polars bear will live in zoos this poses many problems. Use to ranging over such a large area polar bears are quickly bored being locked up in a small enclosure. There are numerous examples of bears going quite mad in zoos.

I remember one in Auckland zoo that spent most of the day pacing back and forth like a prisoner. Zoos and theme parks have improved the way they look after their polar bears including packing their food in ice (to make them work for it), hiding food in different ways to give the bears something to do.

They also include more 'toys' to keep the bears busy. But even if this is better for the bears mental health genetically you need a population of at least 5000 bears with a highly skilled breeding program to ensure the health of the species.
Perhaps a radical solution would be to move some polar bears to the antarctic. The south pole is not going to melt anytime soon (but give mankind time to stuff it up). The polar bears would have plenty of prey - penguins, seals, birds, etc. Of course the huge risk of introducing a new species to this environment is the destruction of other species.

Whilst seals would be fine giving that polar bears haven't over hunted them up north penguins might be a different story - especially ones like the emporers that collect in huge groups to brood - a sitting 'duck' for a hungry polar bear.

Perhaps a solution would be to tried them on some islands near the antarctic first and see how they went and whether other species could adapt to having a new predator.

Whatever the solution with the way the arctic is going time is running out for the polar bear (but not for property developers of nice warm arctic real estate!)

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Polar Bears and Global Warming

Polar Bears and Global Warming
by Michael Russell

Every year around December, about 200 to 250 female polar bears give birth to twins or triplets in the park area. They are part of a population of about 1,200 polar bears in and around the park, some 600 miles north of Winnipeg in northern Manitoba. The females fast during the first months with their cubs, but as spring approaches, they grab their cubs and make a run out onto the ice. The females desperately need food by this time and much reach the Hudson Bay before the ice breaks up and the ringed seals, the favorite food of the Wapusk National Park polar bears, disappear. It will take a family of polar bears about two to three weeks to make it to the ice, during which time each female will probably lose one or more her cubs. It's a tough journey.

Once the family reaches the ice, they'll feast on seals. The mother will teach whatever number of cubs survive how to hunt for themselves. If the cubs get through their first months outdoors, they'll spend the next two years by their mother's side, migrating to and from the Arctic ice packs and learning to hunt the seals. Polar bears gorge themselves during the seven to eight months of the year when the ringed seal is available. During that time they can triple their body weight. Males may grow to 1,000 pounds or more during their feeding period while females may reach 600 pounds. They'll need the extra weight to get them through the summer when the ice breaks up a=on the Hudson Bay and the polar bears move inland onto the summer tundra.

Polar bears are the world's largest land-based predator. They have only one enemy, traditional Inuit natives who hunt the bear for their meat and fur. But now they have another enemy - human-caused global warming. Today, ice melts in the Hudson three weeks earlier in the spring than it did just 25 years ago.

The increasing sun and early ice melt means there is less time for the polar bears to fatten up for the summer months when they won't have access to the seals. Polar bears amass most of their body fat during their spring feast of ringed seals. When the ice disappears earlier, they aren't able to put on as much fat. That fat is critical for the males, but even more critical for the females who must fast an additional period while they nurse their cubs. Females lose an enormous amount of weight giving birth and caring for their cubs, but gain it back if they have enough time on the ice. One female weighed only 250 pounds after her pup's birth, but ballooned to 880 the next year.

But scientists have noted a 10 percent drop in the number of cubs born in the last 20 years. Adult bears are also 10 percent thinner. At a lower body weight, females have a tougher time nursing, which is part of the reason there are fewer cubs. Female polar bears use snow dens to give birth to their cubs. But rising temperatures can affect these dens themselves. If the dens melt early, the cubs are exposed to the outside world too soon. The same is also true for the ringed seals, which are the prey of the polar bears. They use snow dens to shelter their young. Without the snow dens the health of both predator and prey are affected.

Michael Russell

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Global Warming Starves Polar Bears

Global Warming Starves Polar Bears
By Nick Tart

As an inconvenient truth, global warming is affecting our world. But who can physically feel the effects of global warming on a daily basis? Sure, this summer may have been a couple degrees hotter than the last summer, but do the majority of humans really notice this difference?

The human species is undeniably at fault for global warming but we are not necessarily the ones who have to cope with its effects. One of the regions most drastically affected by global warming is the Arctic Circle. And who lives there? Polar bears.

Studies have shown that over the last 20 years, polar bear populations have dropped nearly 25 percent. Not only have they dropped in numbers, scientists have also noticed that they have dropped significantly in size. Polar bears use their body fat to stay alive in cold weather and to float longer in stormy seas. Without excessive body fat, it is much more difficult for them to survive.

Four polar bears were recently discovered off the coast of Alaska after they apparently drowned during a violent storm. Scientists are beginning to recognize that the melting of the polar ice caps frequently leaves polar bears stranded on islands and ice burgs.

Polar bears can swim up to 100 miles to get back to the mainland, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to do this. They have to swim longer distances more often which consequently causes them to lose valuable body fat. Also, if the ice caps recede any more than 100 miles from where the polar bears are stranded, they will not be able to eat until the following winter.

Even if an individual polar bear is not in trouble, the fate of their species is in dire danger. Polar bears are simply struggling to survive in the current state of our planet, and if nothing changes they will become extinct.

Who knows? We could be next.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Polar Bear Quick Facts

Polar Bear Quick Facts
By Anna Spencer

He is the only Ursus maritimus, meaning marine bear. Along with his bear cousins, he is the largest of the land mammals and is at the top of the food chain. Because he lives on the sea ice of the Arctic Polar Basin and regions around the northern Arctic, including the northern coasts of Russia, Greenland and arctic islands, he will seldom cross paths with humans. When he does, he will generally ignore them, and there are only a few recorded instances of aggression.

Physical Features

Polar bears have an elongated neck that helps them to be better swimmers. Also, their front paws are broader and partially webbed. They have long hairs between their foot pads to protect them from the cold and help them grip the ice. Their five sharp, curved claws on each foot also help them grip the ice and clutch their prey.

Males will typically weigh around 1,000 pounds (454 kg) and stand about 10 to 12 feet high. Females tend to be smaller and usually weigh about 550 pounds (250 kg) and grow to about 6 feet. Baby cubs will weigh 2 pounds or less at birth and are blind for about 40 days.

Polar bears have two types of fur. One is a thick, woolly fur close to their skin. The other is actually a clear, hollow tube that can channel the sun's energy directly to their skin to help keep them warm. This gives them their white appearance, but they may have a yellow cast during summer. Another heat source is the layer of fat under their skin which can be four inches thick.

Family Matters

Polar bears start breeding at the age of five, during the summer months of May to June. Males will fight over the females but both will mate with others. Only the females have a den, which they will dig on a slope.

The female will hibernate from November until about March during which time she will give birth to one to four cubs, but more often twins. As with other bears, mother bears form a close bond with their cubs. Polar bear milk is extremely rich in fat compared to humans (40% versus 4%). The mother will nurse newborns every two hours and then wean them after about six months, although they will remain a family unit for about two years.

These bears are nomadic, and travel an average of 5,500 miles a year! Since their territories are so scattered, many of their ranges will overlap. Male bears are solitary except for the mating season and an occasional extra-large feeding opportunity such as a beached whale.


Polar bears are primarily Carnivora, or meat eaters. Their first choice is the ringed seal, but have been known to eat bearded seals, walruses, white whales and some sea birds. Less often, they will eat berries, mussels and some types of grasses.

They are called "still hunters" for the way that they will surprise their prey by waiting until the seal comes up for air at an ice hole or lunging at them while they are on an ice floe. Nighttime is their usual feeding time as that is when the seals are most active.

Polar bears' large stomachs can hold up to 150 pounds of meat at a time, and they may go a week or more between feedings. That also means that they will often nap during the day for up to eight hours - it's time to digest that food! Their keen sense of smell will help them find food from miles away (up to ten miles!) and find a seal den buried under ice and snow.


Although polar bears are not on the endangered list, their lives are still threatened by mankind and global warming.

Off-shore drilling will often cause their food sources to retain chemicals in their systems, thereby slowly poisoning them after eating the prey. Six out of ten cubs born will die in their first year due to accidents, attacks, or starvation.

A recent study also found that some polar bears are drowning due to global warming. They are forced to swim very long distances since the arctic ice shelf is melting. Polar bears can easily swim 10-15 miles, but since the ice floes have become smaller, they now have to swim up to 60 miles in search for food, especially during the summer months. This can lead to exhaustion or hypothermia. The rough sea can cause problems, too.

In 1973, the five "polar bear nations"- Norway, Canada, Russia, Greenland, and the United States - signed a conservation agreement which protects the bears from being hunted from aircraft and powerboats for their skins and as hunting trophies. It permits hunting by local people with traditional methods (such as Inuit peoples). Their numbers are estimated to be 21,000 to 25,000 in the wild.

Fab Facts

Under all the fur, polar bear skin is actually black! They are such good swimmers that they can swim sixty miles without stopping, and have been found 100 miles from land.

They once captured a male that was 18 feet tall, and the largest recorded weight was a whopping 2,200 pounds!

Churchill, Manitoba in Canada is known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World because polar bears gather there every year between October and December to wait for the ice to re-freeze so they can start hunting seals again. It is a big tourist attraction with thousands of people coming to take pictures - the bears will even come into town looking for food.



Order: Carnivora

Family: Ursidae

Genus: Ursus

Species: U. maritimus

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Polar Bears, Rulers of the Arctic North

Polar Bears, Rulers of the Arctic North
By Clint Leung

The polar bears (Thalarctos maritimus) live in the Arctic regions of the north near open water where they can find their main source of food which are seals. These bears are huge with adults at 7 to 8 ½ feet tall and up to 1,600 pounds. Polar bears are white to creamy white all year round which gives them excellent camouflage against the Arctic snow when hunting. Along with the Arctic fox, the polar bear is the most northerly located land mammal on earth.

Unlike other species of bears, polar bears have longer necks and smaller heads making them appear more streamlined. Despite their large sizes, they are incredibly fast being able to run up to 25 miles per hour. At speeds like this, a polar bear can outrun a reindeer. They are also excellent swimmers being able to swim at about 3 miles per hour but for considerable distances.

During winters, they spend most of their time on the ice floes hunting seals. Polar bears have rough, leathery pads on the bottoms of their feet to maintain footholds on slippery ice surfaces. Their adaptation to the cold Arctic waters is even more impressive. Their thick coats of fur traps a deep layer of insulating air around their bodies. An inner layer of fur is so compact that it is almost impossible to wet it. An outer layer of long guard hairs mat together in the water which forms another layer over the inner layer. After a polar bear leaves the water, it simply shakes its body which results in most of the water being thrown right off leaving the bear almost dry. These protective layers of fur ensure that the polar bear’s skin is kept dry most of the time, even while in the Arctic waters.

Polar bears hunt seals by waiting for seals to come through holes in the ice to breathe. They also stalk their prey utilizing their white camouflage abilities against the mounds of ice. Sometimes polar bears have been known to crawl on their bellies until they are close enough to rush their prey, particularly if no cover is available. Besides seals, polar bears will eat Arctic foxes, birds, baby walruses and even man if they are extremely hungry.

Males and females stay apart for most of the year except during the summer mating season. Females tend to breed only every other year and when they do, usually 1 to 4 cubs are born during March to April. The polar bear cubs stay with their mothers for 1 to 2 years. The life span of polar bears can be up to 34 years.

The Inuit hunt polar bears for their fat, tendons and fur. Scientists say that climate changes have been reducing the ice floes in the Arctic which has disrupted the polar bear’s feeding grounds and migration patterns. There are estimates of about 22,000 to 25,000 polar bears left in the world with 60 percent of them in the Canadian Arctic region. Their populations are thought to be stable for now but some speculate that the species is at risk. Some think that if climate changes continue at its present rate and if worldwide hunting is not adequately controlled, polar bears could face extinction in about 100 years. There is presently much debate on adjusting annual hunting quotas of polar bears, even for Inuit hunters, to further help protect these great bears.

Polar bears have become the most popular symbol of the Arctic north with representations used in everything from soft drink commercials to corporate logos of northern based companies including Canadian North airlines. Nunavut even has their license plates cut in the shape of a polar bear. Tourists can see polar bears in the wild through unique tours on specially designed tundra buggies in Churchill, Manitoba Canada. It’s also not surprising that polar bears are some of the most sought after Inuit art sculptures. Polar bears are definitely the rulers of the Arctic north.

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Polar Bears Population And Habitat

Polar Bears Population And Habitat

The polar bear is found throughout the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas. Due to the absence of human development in its remote habitat, it retains more of its original range than any other extant large carnivore. While they are rare north of 88°, there is evidence that they range all the way across the Arctic, and as far south as James Bay in Canada. They can occasionally drift widely with the sea ice, and there have been anecdotal sightings as far south as Berlevåg on the Norwegian mainland and the Kuril Islands in the Sea of Okhotsk. It is difficult to estimate a global population of polar bears as much of the range has been poorly studied, however biologists use a working estimate of about 20,000-25,000 polar bears worldwide.

There are 19 generally recognized discrete subpopulations. The subpopulations display seasonal fidelity to particular areas, but DNA studies show that they are not reproductively isolated. The thirteen North American subpopulations range from the Beaufort Sea south to Hudson Bay and east to Baffin Bay in western Greenland and account for about 70% of the global population. The Eurasian population is broken up into the eastern Greenland, Barents Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, and Chukchi Sea subpopulations, though there is considerable uncertainty about the structure of these populations due to limited mark and recapture data.

The range includes the territory of five nations: Denmark (Greenland), Norway (Svalbard), Russia, US (Alaska) and Canada. These five nations are the signatories of the 1973 International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears which mandates cooperation on research and conservations efforts throughout the polar bear's range.

Modern methods of tracking polar bear populations have been implemented only since the mid-1980s, and are expensive to perform consistently over a large area.The most accurate counts require flying a helicopter in the Arctic climate to find polar bears, shooting a tranquilizer dart at the bear to sedate it, and then tagging the bear. In Nunavut, some Inuit have reported increases in bear sightings around human settlements in recent years, leading to a belief that populations are increasing.

Scientists have responded by noting that hungry bears may be congregating around human settlements, leading to the illusion that populations are higher than they actually are. The Polar Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN takes the position that "estimates of subpopulation size or sustainable harvest levels should not be made solely on the basis of traditional ecological knowledge without supporting scientific studies."

Of the 19 recognized polar bear subpopulations, 5 are declining, 5 are stable, 2 are increasing, and 7 have insufficient data.

he polar bear is often regarded as a marine mammal because it spends many months of the year at sea. Its preferred habitat is the annual sea ice covering the waters over the continental shelf and the Arctic inter-island archipelagos. These areas, known as the "Arctic ring of life", have high biological productivity in comparison to the deep waters of the high Arctic.The polar bear tends to frequent areas where sea ice meets water, such as polynyas and leads (temporary stretches of open water in Arctic ice), to hunt the seals that make up most of its diet. Polar bears are therefore found primarily along the perimeter of the polar ice pack, rather than in the Polar Basin close to the North Pole where the density of seals is low.

Annual ice contains areas of water that appear and disappear throughout the year as the weather changes. Seals migrate in response to these changes, and polar bears must follow their prey. In Hudson Bay, James Bay, and some other areas, the ice melts completely each summer (an event often referred to as "ice-floe breakup"), forcing polar bears to go onto land and wait through the months until the next freeze-up. In the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, polar bears retreat each summer to the ice further north that remains frozen year-round.

Endangered Polar Bear - The Battle To Protect The Arctic Goes On

Endangered Polar Bear - The Battle To Protect The Arctic Goes On

The polar bear world is disappearing. Whether from the consequences of global warming or from intrusion from humans and the hunt for resources such as oil, the endangered polar bear is becoming a target of our intensifying environmental and economic pressures.

As it has been projected that by the middle of this century we will no longer have year-round Arctic sea ice, the polar bear may vanish from the wilderness. Climate change and thinning ice has already lessened, by a few weeks, the time mother polar bears have to feed and collect the fat that sustains them and nourishes their young.

Many scientists feel that the rapid rate of climate change (global warming) underway in the Arctic will lead to resounding effects. In addition to suspected changes in ocean and atmospheric circulation patterns, effects on the endangered polar bear is likely to be faster and can already be observed in a thinning of the weight of polar bears and also in the birth and survival rate of the cubs.

Exceedingly susceptible to disturbances, oil exploration affects the endangered polar bear in a number of ways. For instance, when oil exploration equipment drives too close to the dens, it blasts shock waves through the ground as it searches for oil and gas reserves, making the polar bear mother abandon her den and her cubs, disturbing her hunting patterns. Since the cubs do not leave the den until they're 3 months old, when abandoned, they will die.

It is known that 1 bear has died from consuming a toxic substance, due to the constant release of contaminants from petroleum exploration, production and support activities in active oil fields on Alaska's North Slope. That's 1 bear too many!

Although most Americans concur that there is not adequate oil in the Arctic Refuge to compromise the loss of this place, its people and its wildlife, unfortunately the struggle to protect the Arctic carries on in this, the polar bear world.

As more people reside near these areas, they can't help but acquire garbage and, of course, a few polar bears will move in too near when hunting for food, and be killed. The polar bear habitat is shrinking. Extinction of these magnificent creatures, so unparalleled in our world, is almost a certainty.

The combination of pollution moving to the Far North from sources thousands of miles away, along with oil development and global warming, could affect not only the polar bear world but also the entire ecosystem. Thinning sea ice, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change--these components and more are impacting the future of this and many additional vulnerable arctic species. The endangered polar bear is potentially our generation's "canary in the coal mine." Its demise could forecast even larger environmental dangers to come. Polar bears are a national treasure, and their survival depends on us!

By: Frankie Kangas

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Polar Bears In Trouble

Polar Bears In Trouble

Polar bears have long fascinated us. With their thick, white coats, they look incredibly cuddly, particularly the cubs. In truth, they are the biggest and most powerful bears on the planet. Alas, they may be added to the endangered species list.

Polar bears are an amazingly beautiful animal. Unfortunately, they are under a lot of pressure as a species due to climate change in the Arctic. Receding ice and pollution issues are leading to concerns polar bears may be facing extinction. To better understand polar bears, here’s an overview of this amazing animal.

While penguins are only found in Antarctica, polar bears are only found in the Arctic Circle. This, of course, means they are particularly susceptible to any environmental changes in the Arctic.

Polar bears are the largest bear species by over 400 pounds on average. They are primarily solitary creatures. For food, seal is always on the menu, but they will also scavenge if they come across something tasty. Interestingly, polar bears never drink water. They get it all from their meals.

Polar bears are known for their beautiful white coats. In truth, the coats are not white. The hairs are colorless, hollow tubes that absorb the light giving them the bears their white color. Polar bear skin is actually black like their noses. A common myth is the hollow tubes of polar bear skin can act like fiber optics for your phone. This myth has been disproved, but it gives you an idea of the nature of the hairs.

Female polar bears usually give birth in the last two months of the year. They almost always give birth to twins. When it is time to do so, the mothers will dig dens out of the snow and ice. They will remain in the den without food until the cubs are able to leave.

When born, polar bear cubs are absolutely tiny. They weigh less than one pound, which is pretty amazing considering an adult polar bear can weigh 1,100 pounds on average. After birth, the mother will stay with the cubs for two years and train them in all aspects of polar bear etiquette. After that she abandons them to their own fates. The fathers take no part in the raising of the cubs.

As with many animals, polar bears have some unique characteristics. They can walk up to 40 miles a day and swim up to 60. To catch seals, they stand over a breathing hole and wait for a seal to come up for air. They then swat the seal with their left paw, always their left paw for some unknown reason. After eating, they can go five days without swatting another seal.

As of the writing of this article, polar bear populations are under duress as the Arctic undergoes fundamental changes. Ice is melting and so is the territory of the polar bear. Latest estimates indicate only 25,000 polar bears remain.

By: Richard Monk

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Polar Bears

The Polar Bears

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a bear native to the Arctic Ocean and its surrounding seas. The world's largest carnivore found on land, a title it shares with the Kodiak Bear, an adult male weighs around 400–680 kg (880–1,500 lb), while an adult female is about half that size. Although it is closely related to the brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrow ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for moving across snow, ice, and open water, and for hunting the seals which make up most of its diet. Although most polar bears are born on land, it spends most of its time at sea, hence its name meaning "maritime bear", and can hunt consistently only from sea ice, spending much of the year on the frozen sea.

The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with 5 of the 19 polar bear subpopulations in decline. For decades, unrestricted hunting raised international concern for the future of the species; populations have rebounded after controls and quotas began to take effect. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples, and the hunting of polar bears remains important in their cultures.

The IUCN now lists global warming as the most significant threat to the polar bear, primarily because the melting of its sea ice habitat reduces its ability to find sufficient food. The IUCN states, "If climatic trends continue polar bears may become extirpated from most of their range within 100 years." On May 14, 2008, the United States Department of the Interior listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_bears