Polar bears have uniquely adapted to living near the farthest tip of the Northern Hemisphere. They live in the Arctic territories of North America and Eurasia. They are distributed in the following countries: Canada, Russia, Norway, Greenland(Denmark), and the United States of America. In the United States they live in Alaska. Early map population history indicate much larger territories prior to becoming endangered.
Their habitat includes both land and sea ice. Often polar bears live on ice and drift from one area to another. Massive areas break off and shift locations, sometimes putting mother and cubs in danger. In fact baby polar bears can become stranded when blocks drift far apart since cubs cannot swim long distances.
Climate information facts indicate global warming is responsible for altering polar bear habitat, the animals they eat, their behavior, life cycle, and life span. Hunting harvests by indigenous villages are also impacted.
Except in captivity, scientific statistics indicate they may suffer extinction by year 2100. To save them conservation efforts must attack the problem head on. Through evolution polar bears have adapted to the Arctic. Their ecosystem is the most sensitive to climate change.
WHAT DO POLAR BEARS EAT?
Their favorite foods include the ringed and bearded seal which is plentiful in the Arctic. Polar bears will eat sea birds and their eggs if available where they live. Their diet occasionally includes smaller whales (such as the beluga) and the walrus. Their eating habits include scavenging for dead animals including different types of whales and fish. The polar bear is an important part of Arctic food chain.
They are excellent hunters from both land and sea. From a distance, standing polar bears scope out their prey. Patiently waiting near a seal's breathing hole, they bite the head with their sharp teeth when the seal emerges. Hunting for their food using underwater tactics is another strategy. Submerged they will swim towards an exit in the surface, suddenly surface, and attack any seal resting nearby. In captivity they eat whatever diet is prepared for them.
After polar bears eat their meal their face, fur, and skin color will often be painted a bright red -- losing their cute appearance. They will also leave red paw prints. Mothers save some of their prey for their cubs. Baby polar bears cannot hunt for themselves until about 2 or 3 years. Information from global warming facts suggest patterns of the polar bear's food chain is being altered, and future extinction is a possibility.
BABY POLAR BEAR CUBS
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It is unknown exactly how many exist in the world because they are in several countries and are not easily tracked. However current population numbers are estimated to be somewhere between 21,000 to 25,000. Their total world wide count is threatened by several facts. These include local climate change due to global warming, loss of habitat by humans, and environmental pollution that reaches even the most remote regions of our planet.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service created the Endangered Species Act to protect animals/plants that have supporting information showing low or rapidly decreasing population numbers. In 2008 polar bears where classified as threatened after much testimony from wildlife conservation groups and facts from scientists indicated extinction is a real possibility.
However they are still endangered. Massive oil and gas development in the center of where they live is planned and is an attack on their sensitive ecosystem. No protection from such activity will be permitted. These areas are where baby polar bears are raised, adding an additional challenge to cubs striving to reach adulthood. Global warming is also an ongoing threat.
POLAR BEAR ATTACK
When it comes to hunting their natural prey, polar bears are experts at attacking seals and other animals for food. Their white fur provides perfect camouflage with the snow and ice in their environment. Baby polar bears stay close to their den to avoid attacks from predators.
Polar bears are intelligent and very curious by nature. Not shy, they have been known to approach and investigate scientist vehicles and ships. They have a reputation of being man hunters but this is based on false information and not facts. A polar bear attack on humans is very rare. They live in such remote areas of the earth that contact with human populations are rare in the first place.
If provoked or they feel endangered, a human attack is possible. However it is unlikely they will attack to eat a person for food. As with other bears, mother and cubs present a situation that could be dangerous if the mother gets defensive.
Global warming has a strong impact on polar bear habitat. Information from climate change facts show that temperature change in the Arctic is rising faster than elsewhere. As a result the polar ice cap is shrinking steadily. Polar bears live, eat, and raise their cubs on Arctic ice, which is breaking up and melting at an alarming rate.
Even if steps are taken to reduce emissions now, gases already in the atmosphere will continue to heat up the earth for another 40 to 50 years. As the Arctic melts, the warming process feeds on itself. Much like a sealed freezer, once heat is introduced the melting process continues. Ocean water previously shielded by ice and white snow is exposed to heating from the sun.
As ice platforms dislodge and disintegrate, the polar bear's feeding, breeding, livelihood, and population are all affected. The ultimate result is extinction as the natural ecosystem is destroyed. At the present rate of global warming most of the frozen portions of the Arctic may disappear by the end of this century.
POLAR BEAR EXTINCTION
Polar bear extinction is a real possibility. Scientific facts indicate that their habitat is melting faster than projected. Global warming is the culprit. Although they can adapt to subtle changes, specie adaptation is not possible because the pace of climate change is too great. As time passes, their population will suffer rapid decline. Some studies have information suggesting that as much as two thirds of the current population could disappear by 2050.
One by one polar bears will be eliminated from different areas they currently live. Effects are already being documented in Hudson Bay. Research information show that fewer baby polar bears are being born. Polar bear cubs are not reaching previous adult weights as the foods they eat (mostly seals) are affected.
To save them from becoming further endangered, attacks on their habitat must be addressed. Extinction will be the result if we do not act now. Some conservation organizations have suggested transplanting small populations to Antarctica where a similar life cycle can be attained instead of captivity.
POLAR BEAR CAMOUFLAGE
Polar bears come in only one color. To blend in with the snow that is common in the territory they live, the entire population has white colored fur. This evolution adaptation helps them avoid detection when hunting seals and other animals they eat. White baby polar bears are less vulnerable to a predator attack when the cubs venture from their den.
Pure white polar bears do not exist. They are actually closer to a light cream color. Sometimes their face and head have "freckles" caused by whisker pigmentation or missing hair.
The so called green polar bear is not what it appears to be. The fur is white but has moss growing on it giving it a green appearance. This is one of the interesting facts observed with animals in captivity, perhaps due to lack of sun and mobility.
MORE POLAR BEAR FACTS
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