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Polar Bears Are Facing Climate-Driven Starvation

A recent study highlights the difficulties polar bears are fighting as their icy habitats diminish. The findings highlighted an ongoing issue as ice-free seasons grow longer due to climate change, polar bears are increasingly at risk of climate-driven starvation

A recent study conducted by researchers from Washington State University and the U.S. Geological Survey Polar Bear Research Program sheds light on the challenges facing polar bears as their icy habitats dwindle. The study, which closely monitored 20 polar bears in the western Hudson Bay region of Manitoba, Canada, over three weeks, reveals troubling findings. Despite employing various survival strategies such as resting, scavenging and foraging, almost all observed polar bears experienced weight loss, averaging around 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) daily. Lead author Anthony Pagano, a research wildlife biologist, notes that neither resting nor foraging can sustain polar bears indefinitely on land. Even those bears that actively foraged still lost body weight at alarming rates. The study also highlights the bears’ inability to adapt to longer ice-free seasons by emulating grizzly bears’ foraging behaviours. Despite efforts to find alternative terrestrial foods like berries and grasses, polar bears struggle to maintain their body mass.


Utilising collars equipped with video cameras and GPS, researchers tracked the bears’ movements and behaviors, offering unique insights into their activities on land. Despite varied behaviors, including extended periods of rest and extensive searches for food, the majority of bears struggled to replenish their energy reserves adequately. Even bears embarking on long swims in search of food often returned empty-handed. The study underscores the urgency of the situation, particularly in the southernmost area of the polar bear range in western Hudson Bay, where climate warming is accelerating. Since 1987, the polar bear population in this region has declined by an estimated 30 per cent, highlighting the rapid impact of climate change. With the ice-free period lengthening, polar bears across the Arctic face an uncertain future.


Researchers stress the importance of ongoing monitoring and conservation efforts to safeguard polar bears and their ecosystems in the face of climate change. The study serves as a stark reminder of the need for immediate action to mitigate climate change and protect vulnerable species like the polar bear.

Polar Bears Are Facing Climate-Driven Starvation

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Polar Bears Are Facing Climate-Driven Starvation

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