Polar bears are under threat. Here are 11 things to know about them:
February 27 is International Polar Bear day. Every year on this day people remember how we, as human beings, have contributed to the rapid decline of the species — partly because of the industrial emissions we have pumped into the atmosphere.
The global event draws attention to the challenges polar bears face in a warming Arctic, and how people can help them.
Here are 11 things to know about them:
1. The scientific name for the polar bear is Ursus maritimus, which means “maritime bear”. They are considered to be marine mammals.
2. Today, their hunting grounds and habitat has decreased in size. “Climate change, contamination of the Arctic environment, potential over-harvest, and increasing human development in polar bear habitat pose conservation challenges for polar bears,” FWS says.
3. According to Polar Bears International, we could lose wild polar bears by the end of this century, and two-thirds could be gone by 2050.
4. The ice edge and pressure ridges where fractures and refreezing occur provide the best hunting ground for the mammals. During summer, they can remain on islands or on coastlines with landfast ice, drift on ice flows. Sometimes, they’re stranded on land where they are forced to endure warm weather.
5. The organisers of International Polar Bear Day have asked people to take part in their #ThermostatChallenge at home, work or school by reducing carbon emissions on February 27 — and every day.
6. The worldwide polar bear population reads 22,000–25,000, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Most are distributed in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia.
7. Research by Arctic Science revealed that the weight of female bears in Ontario fell by over 10 percent between 1984 and 2009 due to climate change.
8. Churchill, a town in Canada’s Manitoba, is known as the polar bear capital of the world, because hundreds of them gather there each year to hunt seals.
9. In earlier times, the main threat to polar bears was hunting. Native peoples in the arctic used polar bear materials for fur, meat, and medicines.
10. Polar bears are estimated to live between 25 to 30 years in the wild. Annual adult mortality is estimated at 8 to 16 percent, Animal Diversity says.
11. They are inactive most of the time, either sleeping, lying, or waiting — whilst hunting. The rest of their time is spent traveling, stalking prey, or feeding.