Disappearing Arctic sea ice threatens Canada's polar bears: expert panel

December 3, 2018
At last count in 2011, there were 15,500 polar bears in Canada

A committee of wildlife experts warned Monday that Canada's largest land predator, the polar bear, was at risk of disappearing from its vast Arctic landscape as melting Arctic sea ice makes hunting prey a challenge.

"It is clear we will need to keep a close eye on this ," Graham Forbes, co-chair of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) said in a statement. "Significant change is coming to its entire range."

He explained that the bears use sea ice and the "same sit-and-wait techniques familiar to ice fishers" to hunt seals for food.

Predictions of longer ice-free Arctic summers will make hunting "much more difficult" for , he said.

Inuit, however, are cautiously optimistic the bears will adapt.

In its latest assessment, COSEWIC incorporated both science and Inuit knowledge. It concluded that "while not currently threatened with extinction, the species faces an uncertain future."

Its status was listed as a Special Concern, meaning it may become threatened or endangered.

Canada is home to two-thirds of the world's polar bear population.

At last count in 2011, there were 15,500 polar bears in Canada.

The same year, Ottawa listed the animal under its Species at Risk Act, requiring a conservation strategy be put in place to alleviate human threats to the iconic bears.

COSEWIC also expressed concerns about declining Chinook salmon stocks along the Pacific coast, and Black Ash after two billion of the trees in the Great Lakes region were killed by Emerald Ash Borer beetles.

Explore further: Quota raised for subsistence hunting of Chukchi polar bears

Related Stories

International ban on polar bear trade rejected

March 7, 2013

A major meeting of governments on threats to endangered species on Thursday rejected a ban on international trade in polar bears amid fears it would distract from the bigger threat of global warming.

Recommended for you

Computing the origin of life

December 14, 2018

As a principal investigator in the NASA Ames Exobiology Branch, Andrew Pohorille is searching for the origin of life on Earth, yet you won't find him out in the field collecting samples or in a laboratory conducting experiments ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (3) Dec 03, 2018
Do polar bears primarily hunt when the ocean is frozen over ir in the summertime after the ice breaks up? Google it.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Dec 03, 2018
Polar bears primarily hunt on the sea ice for various seals at their breathing holes and resting haulouts in or on the ice during the winter. Summer is a lean time for them, when they subsist on whatever they can catch or find, including rotten blubber from weeks dead carcasses. During the late summer and early autumn when there is no sea ice and they can't get seals, they may go a month at a time without eating and survive on their own blubber, losing hundreds of pounds.

Now, did you have a point?

Reported for an offensive handle. We'll see if the moderators do anything about it.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.