Will Polar Bears be extinct by 2050?
The study behind this depressing conclusion could land polar bears on the list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
Polar bears depend on the sea – and sea ice – for food. Most often they dine on ringed seals, which they catch by hanging out on sea ice next to seals’ breathing holes. Without sea ice, they can’t get enough food to survive. Unfortunately, summer sea ice has been declining rapidly, raising fears for polar bear survival.
Biologists have been studying polar bear populations for years, so they have a good understanding of how sea ice dynamics – particularly the length of the ice-free season – affect polar bear survival.
Polar bear populations in the Western Hudson Bay and Southern Beaufort Sea are declining, and this trend is linked to disappearing sea ice. Polar bears in the Hudson Bay and northern Russia could indeed disappear by mid-century. Polar bears of northern and eastern Greenland may hang on for 75 years. In the archipelagos between northeastern Canada and northwestern Greenland, polar bears are likely to survive through the end of the century, though in smaller numbers.
The Big Wild is working against the clock to provide Individual Identification of Polar Bears. Providing researches with this essential data enables ground truth data on accurate numbers of population, migratory patterns, prey, human-wildlife conflict and the enduring plight of this beloved species.
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