Polar bear conservation is dear to our hearts at Wildlife Collections. According to our partner Polar Bears International, there are only about 23,000 polar bears left in the world. Many of these populations are dwindling rapidly, and it is a fight against time to save them from extinction.
While there are other threats to polar bears, the biggest problem for the species is the loss of sea ice as a result of climate change. As the Arctic continues to warm, sea ice disappears sooner in spring and comes back later in fall. There is also less sea ice during the coldest time of winter.
This is a serious problem for polar bears because they rely on sea ice as their hunting grounds. With less territory to hunt and the need to travel farther for a meal, populations are under increasing stress with each passing year.
If we are to find ways to save polar bears, we need to combat climate change and understand the ways they have adapted to reduced sea ice. In this post, we are going to look at some of the ways polar bears are adapting to changes in the environment.
Finding New Food Sources
Seals are the ideal source of food for polar bears. As prey, seals offer the bears a calorie-rich meal that can fuel the bodies of these massive predators. However, a lack of sea ice limits the opportunities they have to catch these meals that can sustain them through the toughest times of the year.
To adapt to the lack of sea ice that has limited the ability of polar bears to catch seals, the bears have adapted by looking for new sources of food. In recent years, scientists have observed polar bears eating dolphins and the eggs of snow geese.
Unfortunately, these new sources of food do not make up for lost opportunities to catch seals. The eggs of the snow geese don’t provide nearly enough calories and the opportunities to catch dolphins are very limited.
Polar bears have been known to catch a seal and eat the entire animal all at once. If they don’t eat the entire catch, they usually leave the remains behind. In recent years, some polar bears have been observed storing food to eat later.
Burying food in the ice to preserve it has been observed in other bear species in the past, but it is unusual for polar bears. While this could be a way to help them deal with difficult times, it is another indication that they are under stress.
Encounters With Humans
Another issue with diminishing sea ice is that polar bears are starting to spend more time closer to humans. Polar bears are opportunistic, and they will scavenge in dumpsters and the food stores of humans.
This creates another issue because the lack of food and more time spent near humans could result in more polar bear attacks. Polar bears are predators, and when they lose opportunities from their normal source of food, they might be more aggressive and attack humans as a way to survive.
Helping Polar Bears With Wildlife Collections
Beyond working to combat climate change, one way to protect polar bears is to contribute to conservation efforts. At Wildlife Collections, we run our Save the Polar Bears campaign as a way to contribute to this cause.
With every bracelet sold through the campaign, we donate a portion of the proceeds to Polar Bears International. This helps them with their mission to study polar bears and protect their habitat. Along with that, they do important work in polar bear tracking.
If you are interested in protecting polar bears, we encourage you to buy a Venture Bracelet from the campaign. Along with the bracelet and the contribution to polar bear conservation, you will get a polar bear you can track. You can learn about the bear’s history and follow it on the tracking map.
For more information about polar bear conservation, please check out the Polar Bears International website.