It’s hard to imagine such impressive, powerful predators being vulnerable, but man-made climate change is making life tough for them – so their fate could be in our hands. We mustn’t let them down.
Polar bears range across the Arctic Ocean, in parts of Canada, Alaska, Russia, Greenland and Norway (Svalbard). They can walk or swim long distances to find food or to breed – sometimes roaming across vast areas up to 600,000 sq km.
Polar bears have a strong cultural significance for Arctic people, and beyond, polar bears are top predators in their food web. Which means they play a vital role in the balance of their ecosystem.
While climate change remains the greatest threat to the polar bear’s survival, that is not all that the predator is up against. The oil and gas industry is turning its eyes to the arctic, and with it comes the potential risks of habitat destruction from oil exploration work. Contact with oil spills can reduce the insulating effect of a bear’s fur requiring them to use more energy to get warm, and can poison them if ingested. Polar bears can also be exposed to toxic chemicals such as pesticides through their prey, which can affect a bear's biological functioning and ability to reproduce.
Melting sea ice from climate change has increased human-polar bear conflicts when hungry polar bears go searching for food in the summer. Fortunately, people are learning to adapt to the polar bear's presence and take preventative measures to reduce the risk of conflict.
By helping protect the polar bear, we’re helping to make sure the Arctic food chain stays healthy, for the benefit of wildlife and people in and beyond the Arctic. The Arctic provides fish for millions of people. (source: wwf.org)
We can all help polar bears and the whole planet by adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle. Use renewables, eco transportation, eat local vegan organic food, reduce, reuse, recycle, ditch plastics.
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