Polar bears and climate change
Polar bears depend on sea ice to hunt seals, find mates, raise their young, travel and rest. Unfortunately, the loss of Arctic sea ice is advancing faster than most climate models had predicted.
Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey predict that by 2050, lack of sea ice will have reduced polar bear numbers by about two thirds. By 2040, summer sea ice is expected to recede to a band around north-eastern Canada and northern Greenland, taking polar bears with it. This remote area could provide the very last bastion for sea ice dependent Arctic species such as polar bears to make their last stand.
Some polar bear subpopulations, are already suffering the effects of Arctic meltdown and so provide important insights into the potential future of polar bears elsewhere. At the southern end of the species’ range, around Canada’s Hudson Bay, lack of food combined with with unsustainable and selective hunting, has caused a decline in the bears’ physical condition, fewer cubs are born and even fewer survive. Between 1987 and 2017 this population has suffered a 30 percent decline and a deminished population growth rate as a result of unsustainable hunting, which is further excacerbated by the effects of climate change.
A bad situation made worse
Climate change alone leaves polar bears hanging by a thread, But native and trophy hunters kill 800 - 1,000 polar bears each and every year. The consistent removal of the biggest and strongest animals to supply the international skin trade and as trophies progressively weakens polar bear populations and undermines their ability to cope with food shortages caused by lack of sea ice. If we want polar bears to have the best possible chance to survive, polar bear hunting to supply the international trade in skins and trophies needs to stop. That's what we are fighting for.
If we want polar bears to have the best possible chance to survive, polar bear hunting to supply the international trade in skins and trophies needs to stop. That's what we are fighting for.
By 2050, lack of sea ice is predicted to decimate polar bear numbers by roughly two thirds.
US Geological Survey
Polar bears have no enemies apart from us.
We threaten their survival through climate change, and fur and trophy hunters target the largest and strongest individuals who have
the best chance of surviving.
Because our behaviour is the problem, the solution also rests in our hands.