The future of polar bear populations is at risk.
From trophy hunting to climate change these arctic predators are at risk and something needs to be done.
On February 27th the world celebrates international polar bear day. Focusing on raising awareness and learning about these big white bears and how we can do our part to help protect their populations. Scroll to the bottom of this piece to sign the petition to get trophy hunting of polar bears banned.
Polar Bear Facts
Learning about polar bears is key to understanding them and even caring more about them, so we have compiled some of our favorite facts for your:
Polar bears are actually black, not white! Beneath their translucent fur these bear actually have black skin. They only appear white because it reflects visible light.
They depend on the ocean for survival which makes them marine mammals just like dolphins and whales. Their scientific name is Ursus maritimus which means 'sea bear'.
Female polar bears typically give birth to twins. It is uncommon for them to have a single cub or triplets. The cubs will stay with their mother for the first two years of their lives.
Male bears can weigh up to 800kg which is equivalent to 10 men! They can stand at 3 meters high which makes them the tallest land carnivores on the planet. The females are usually about half the size.
They touch noses to ask to share food. Often two bears will touch noses as a greeting, the visiting bear will circle the food and then approach the other polar bear and touch noses to ask and see if they are willing to share their food.
Scientists can now get DNA from a polar bears footprint in the snow! Their paws measure up to 30 cm across and are used to help the bear tread on thin ice. Just two scoops of snow from a polar bear track allows scientists to gather DNA from the bear that made it and also from a seal that bear recently ate.
Polar bears clean themselves by rolling around in the snow, giving themselves a snow bath. This method of cleaning not only helps keep them clean but it can help if they find themselves overheating.
They have an amazing sense of smell and are able to track prey from almost a kilometre away. They can even smell prey through a meter of compacted snow!
These bears spend plenty of time in the water and are able to swim for hours at a time. They can reach speeds of up to 6mph and can swim long distances steadily from one piece of ice to another. They use their large paws to paddle through the water.
Polar bears spend half of their lives hunting for food but did you know that less than 2% of polar bears hunts are successful. It is getting harder and harder for polar bears to find their prey as they rely on the sea ice to hunt. Sea ice has been declining by around 13.1% each decade.
"Grolar Bears"or "Pizzly Bears" are grizzly-polar bear hybrids. They are very rare but have been found in both captivity and the wild. In 2016 researchers found that grizzly bears were moving north as their habitat is getting warmer which is bringing them into contact with polar bears.
Awareness for Polar Bears
Polar bear groups are split into 19 populations, most of which are stable at the moment. Broken down, there are 4 populations in decline, 2 population increasing, 5 populations that are stable and 8 that don't have enough data to make an assessment.
It is well known that polar bears, like most creatures, are facing threats every day. Here are a few of the important and more well known ones:
This is one of the most commonly known threats to polar bears and is considered by many one of the biggest threats that they face. Climate change is causing the sea ice to recede which means that polar bears are losing their habitat and hunting grounds. They rely on the sea ice for hunting in the winter and spring, so they can store energy for the summer and autumn months when food is scarce. However, the sea ice is melting earlier in the spring and forming later in the autumn so the bears are having to spend longer periods of time without food which has lead to a decline in their health. This decline in their health can actually lead to lower reproductive rates and more cubs deaths due to malnutrition and lack of food.
Currently, polar bear populations are stable and there are different legalities to hunting polar bears depending on the country. There is an international Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears which allows local people, such as Indigenous People, to use traditional methods and exercising traditional rights in hunting polar bears.
Some countries have a set quota for polar bear hunting to ensure that it remains sustainable and poses no threat to populations. However there are other countries that do not monitor populations or effects of hunting on these population.
Russia brought in a ban on polar bear hunting in 1957, the USA followed suit in 1972 and Norway in 1973. This means that Canada’s Arctic region is now the only place where polar bear hunting is still legal.
With more and more oil explorations taking place in the arctic it is expected that polar bear populations are going to experience more pressure. These explorations affect the bears in many ways, exposure to oil can reduce polar bears insulation and if ingested it can poison them leading to liver and kidney damage. The seismic blasts, construction work and transportation can disturb polar bears and cause shifts and changes in their habits and behaviors. Spills can cause disastrous effects on their habitat and it can be very difficult to clean up these spills effectively.
Sign the Petition
Cristiana Veloso has set up a petition to the Canadian government calling for a ban on polar bear trophy hunting. If you want to put an end to trophy hunting and the profiteering off of a vulnerable species, then please take a moment to sign the petition.
Polar Bear Awareness Necklace
If you are a deep lover of polar bear then we recommend checking out our Polar Bear Awareness Necklaces. It is a simple and minimalistic design worn on a link chain and is sure to make the sweetest and most incredibly thoughtful gift for polar bear enthusiasts.