Polar bears are found only in the arctic region, which consists of parts of Greenland/Denmark, Canada, Norway, Russia, and the United States (Pidcock). It is estimated that there are 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears worldwide (Defenders of Wildlife). There are nineteen subpopulations of polar bears, or nineteen regions where polar bears live (Pidcock). They are marine mammals, and they are also the largest carnivorous land animals in the world (Defenders of Wildlife). Their main food source is ringed seals and bearded seals (Defenders of Wildlife). Polar bears’ bodies have developed and adapted for survival in the arctic regions of Earth. They have very thick fur that keeps in their body heat (Defenders of Wildlife). They have small ears and tails which allows them to lose less heat. Their big paws are like snowshoes, and their feet have anti-slip skin which is like sandpaper (“History of Polar Bears”). Female polar bears can weigh as much as 700 pounds, and males can weigh as much as 1,760 pounds (Defenders of Wildlife). The average lifespan of a polar bear is 20-25 years (Defenders of Wildlife). Intuit people who used to live in the polar regions lived with the polar bears and hunted them occasionally for food or clothing. It was never a concern that the Inuit people would over-hunt the polar bears, because it was dangerous and weapons were scarce (“History of Polar Bears”).
Polar bears have thrived in the North for over 70,000 years until recently. As of May 2008, polar bears have been listed as a threatened species in the United States under the endangered species act (Pidcock). There is overwhelming evidence that climate change is the cause of this. There is evidence that three of the subpopulations, Baffin Bay, Kane Basin and the Southern Beaufort Sea, are currently in decline (Pidcock). Many polar bears are forced to go for very long periods of time without food because of the melting sea ice (Pidcock). Other effects that climate change has had on polar bears include more exposure to disease, and the collapsing of dens (Pidcock). Polar bears make these snow dens so they can have a place to birth their cubs, and hide or protect them if necessary (Pidcock). There have been recent reports of polar bears encountering humans and coastal communities during their hunts for food, and some of these encounters have been dangerous (WWF). Scientists predict that there is a 70% chance that the overall polar bear population will decrease by a third in the next three generations, or about 35 years (Pidcock).
Polar bears are creatures that have thrived in the arctic for generations and now because of anthropogenic climate change, their species is in deep trouble and on the verge of collapse. It is up to humans to take a stand against this to save the polar bear population and make sure they have many more years to thrive on Earth like they have done in the past.
“History of Polar Bears.” Endangered Polar Bear. N.p., Apr. 2013. Web. 05 Mar. 2017.
“Polar Bears and Climate Change: What Does the Science Say?” Carbon Brief. N.p., 23 Dec. 2016. Web. 05 Mar. 2017.
“Polar Bear.” WWF. World Wildlife Fund, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2017.
“Basic Facts About Polar Bears.” Defenders of Wildlife. N.p., 10 May 2016. Web. 04 Mar. 2017.