The Endangered – Polar Bear

By Talia Gerard

A frame-filling portrait of a male polar bear (Ursus maritimus) jumping in the pack ice. The young male, probably due to a mix of curiosity and hunger, got really close to our ship - less than 20 meters. Svalbard, Norway.
A frame-filling portrait of a male polar bear (Ursus maritimus) jumping in the pack ice. The young male, probably due to a mix of curiosity and hunger, got really close to our ship – less than 20 meters. Svalbard, Norway.

The Polar Bear’s habitat is the Arctic, and they are most commonly found in areas with annual sea-ice, which is also home to productive ringed seal populations. These fierce predators are at the top of the food chain in the Arctic, and they feed mainly on seals. The majority of Polar Bears live in five countries, U.S., Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway. Their level of endangerment vary from country to country. For example, in Russia, Polar Bears are classified as a Red Data Book species, a list that includes the animals considered rare or endangered. In the U.S., Polar Bears are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Canada, on the other hand, considers Polar Bears a species of special concern under the National Species at Risk Act.

Why they are important: Polar Bears are at the top of the food chain and therefore are very important in the Arctic marine ecosystem. They have an important role in the overall health of the marine environment.

What is the problem:  These important animals are hugely impacted by climate change. Polar Bears are the most significantly impacted species as the Arctic warms and sea-ice melts because they depend on sea-ice for their existence. Without sea-ice, they would lose their homes and food source. Another problem affecting the survival of Polar Bear populations is that they are being hunted in areas where the sub-population status—stable or declining—is uncertain. Lastly, the number of offshore petroleum operations are increasing in the Arctic, which will negatively affect the Polar Bears by causing potentially fatal contact with spilled oil.

How you can help:

  1. Get solar panels
  2. Support organizations that work to protect Polar Bears
  3. Adopt a Polar Bear

Want more of The Endangered? Check out the growing list of articles on our Wildlife page.

To empower young people to be environmental leaders