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

Sculpting stable structures in pure liquids

February 21, 2019

Oscillating flow and light pulses can be used to create reconfigurable architecture in liquid crystals. Materials scientists can carefully engineer concerted microfluidic flows and localized optothermal fields to achieve ...

Researchers make coldest quantum gas of molecules

February 21, 2019

JILA researchers have made a long-lived, record-cold gas of molecules that follow the wave patterns of quantum mechanics instead of the strictly particle nature of ordinary classical physics. The creation of this gas boosts ...

LMC S154 is a symbiotic recurrent nova, study suggests

February 21, 2019

Astronomers have conducted observations of a symbiotic star in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), known as LMC S154, which provide new insights about the nature of this object. Results of these observations, presented in a ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

fuckyouyoufuckingfuck
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
3.7 / 5 (3) 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.