3/16/2010 2:13:14 PM

Thin Ice on Western Hudson Bay

Reports from the field indicate that there's very little ice on western Hudson Bay, and what remains is unstable. Months remain until the traditional summer melt-off, leading scientists to believe that this may be a devastating year for the population.

The western Hudson Bay population of polar bears has dropped 22% since the mid-'80s. Last fall, the ice on the Bay formed two weeks later than usual, shortening the bears' hunting season. Current conditions suggest that the summer melt-off could arrive early as well, hitting the bears with a double-whammy: a late freeze-up and an early thaw. Polar bears rely on the sea ice to reach their main prey, ringed seals.

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