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POLAR BEARS

Polar bears are the classic symbol of the Arctic. They are the top predators of the north, associated with physical strength and extreme adaptations that make living on sea ice possible. Polar bears have long been important to spiritual beliefs and rituals in old Inuit cultures and are also popular in modern societies.

In the last decade, polar bears have become the main icon of global warming. Although a warmer climate may largely determine the future distribution of polar bears, the vast majority of population reductions over the past 30 years are attributable to unsustainable hunting. At least for the next ten to fifteen years, hunting will likely continue to play a major role in determining polar bear population trends. The Polar Bears & Humans project – where WildPhoto Travel is a Main Partner – has published a book about polar bear conservation and most of the information below is from this book.

POLAR BEARS

Polar bears are the classic symbol of the Arctic. They are the top predators of the north, associated with physical strength and extreme adaptations that make living on sea ice possible. Polar bears have long been important to spiritual beliefs and rituals in old Inuit cultures and are also popular in modern societies.

In the last decade, polar bears have become the main icon of global warming. Climate change and sea ice loss ice have dominated discussions about polar bear conservation in recent years. Although a warmer climate may largely determine the future distribution of polar bears, the vast majority of population reductions over the past 30 years are attributable to unsustainable hunting. At least for the next ten to 15 years, hunting will likely continue to play a major role in determining polar bear population trends. WildPhoto Travel is proud to be a Main Parter of the Polar Bears & Humans project.

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WHERE DO POLAR BEARS LIVE?
Polar bears are found throughout the Arctic in the northern parts of the United States (Alaska), Canada, Greenland, Norway (Svalbard) and Russia. Most polar bears live between 60° N and 80° N along the shallow continental shelf, where sea ice covers the Arctic Ocean most of the year. READ MORE

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WHAT DO POLAR BEARS EAT?
The polar bear is a specialised predator of seals in the ice-covered Arctic seas. Despite some geographic variation in the polar bear diet, the species’ main prey consists of ringed seals and bearded seals. Polar bears sometimes eat other, apparently less important prey, such as harp seals, belugas, narwhal and walrus. READ MORE

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LIVING ON THIN ICE
The warming climate, strongly influenced by human activities and increased global use of non-renewable energy sources, is responsible for Arctic sea ice loss. Polar bears and other sea ice-dependent animals face significant challenges as they are forced to adapt to their receding habitat. READ MORE

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POLAR BEAR HUNTING
Traditional subsistence polar bear hunting – for meat and clothes – has changed dramatically over the last 50 years, transforming an Arctic resource into money. Rising prices of polar bear skins and wealthy trophy hunters have motivated many hunters and communities to participate in polar bear hunting as a commercial industry. READ MORE

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TROPHY HUNTING
Few topics in the world of wildlife management engage people more than trophy hunting, referred by some to as sport or safari hunting. Historically, trophy hunting has been associated with wealthy men on safari, killing animals for collection or fun. Then as now, some even do it in the name of conservation. READ MORE

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POPULATION CHANGES
Many people want to know if the overall polar bear population is increasing or decreasing. Climate change and hunting pressure suggest it is reasonable to expect a decreasing population, but by how much? Based on population studies and hunting statistics, it is possible to describe polar bear population changes since the 1960s. READ MORE

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POLAR BEAR SKIN TRADE
Humans have targeted polar bears for their rare, high-quality skins for hundreds of years. Today, the pure white hide of a polar bear is a luxury item and its price has increased in the last decade. Higher prices attract more hunters and fur traders who want to earn as much money as possible from vulnerable species like the polar bear. READ MORE

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“PROBLEM BEARS”
Encounters between humans and polar bears have occurred in the Arctic as long as people have hunted, explored and settled in this remote part of the world. Most encounters have happened without any drama. However, in some rare situations, humans have been injured or killed. READ MORE