Polar bears can be found in the Artic, the U.S. (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Denmark (Greenland), and Norway (Svalbard). Each of these countries either banned hunting or established rules for how many polar bears could be hunted within its own boundaries. These rules help keep polar bear populations stable. Today, 25,000 to 40,000 polar bears roam the Arctic.
Photo by Andrey Gudkov
Some facts about polar bears:
* Because they spend most of their lives on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean depending on the ocean for their food and habitat, polar bears are the only bear species to be considered marine mammals;
* Polar bear fur is translucent, and only appears white because it reflects visible light. Beneath all that thick fur, their skin is jet black;
* Although about half of a polar bear’s life is spent hunting for food, their hunts are rarely successful. Polar bears main prey consists of ringed seals and bearded seals, though they will also scavenge carcasses or settle for small mammals, birds, eggs and vegetation;
* While climate change remains the greatest threat to the polar bear’s survival, that is not all that the predator is up against. The oil and gas industry is turning its eyes to the arctic, and with it comes the potential risks of habitat destruction from oil exploration work. Contact with oil spills can reduce the insulating effect of a bear’s fur requiring them to use more energy to get warm, and can poison them if ingested. Polar bears can also be exposed to toxic chemicals such as pesticides through their prey, which can affect a bear's biological functioning and ability to reproduce.
Melting sea ice from climate change has increased human-polar bear conflicts when hungry polar bears go searching for food in the summer. Fortunately, people are learning to adapt to the polar bear's presence and take preventative measures to reduce the risk of conflict;
* Male polar bears can weigh up to 800kg, and are twice the size of females. This, in addition to the fact that they can measure up to 3 metres long, makes polar bears the largest land carnivore in the world;
* Polar bears have a very strong sense of smell, which they use to find seal breathing holes in the ice. Once it has found the hole, the bear will wait patiently until the seal comes up for air to attack. They can even detect a seal in the water beneath a metre of compacted snow. - in: https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/11-facts-you-didnt-know-about-polar-bears