Polar Bear Needs Our Care
Tattoo by Petri Syrjälä
The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world’s largest land carnivore and also the largest bear, together with the omnivorous Kodiak Bear, which is approximately the same size. A boar (adult male) weighs around 350–680 kg (770–1,500 lb),while a sow (adult female) is about half that size. Although it is closely related to the brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrower ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for moving across snow, ice, and open water, and for hunting the seals which make up most of its diet. Although most polar bears are born on land, they spend most of their time at sea; their scientific name means “maritime bear”. Polar bears can hunt their preferred food of seals from the edge of sea ice, often living off fat reserves when no sea ice is present.
The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with eight of the nineteen polar bear sub-populations in decline. For decades, large scale hunting raised international concern for the future of the species, but populations rebounded after controls and quotas began to take effect. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples, and polar bears remain important in their cultures. The IUCN, Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, United States Geological Survey, and many leading polar bear biologists have expressed grave concerns about the impact of climate change, and the melting of the polar ice caps, including the belief that the current warming trend imperils the survival of the species.
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