Polar bear mom and newborn cubs

Photo: Daniel J. Cox

Protect Their Future and Save Ours

Protect Their Future And Save Ours

By Krista Wright, Executive Director



28 Jan 2022

The Path Forward

Across the Arctic right now, polar bear moms and newborn cubs are nestled together in snow dens, their fragile future at risk without our help.

Last year, Hudson Bay polar bears were off their sea ice hunting grounds for about 170 days due to a delayed freeze-up. According to scientists, that is over 50 days beyond the point at which cub survival rapidly declines. While we are likely to see variation in the duration of ice-free periods in years to come, this extreme punctuates a troubling trend for these polar bear families and the survival of the species. 

Fall 2021’s late freeze up on Hudson Bay underscores the urgent need for our leaders to buckle down and vigorously build climate policies and programs that will protect polar bears … and all of us. At this critical point for the planet, described by the U.N. secretary-general as “code red for humanity,” it’s up to us to harness our collective power to protect and elevate what matters to us—vibrant communities, clean air, safe homes, healthy wildlife and ecosystems. Together, our actions can create the hope we seek and need. 

At Polar Bears International, our path forward this year is two-fold:

Protect the Bear's Home

The greatest threat to polar bears is sea ice loss due to human-caused climate warming. At the 26th United Nations Climate Conference last year, countries made incremental progress in addressing this global challenge, but current commitments will not secure a livable future for polar bears and most of us on this planet. 

Around the world, it is essential that we keep pressure on our governments to strengthen these commitments and to animate these promises with on-the-ground national and local policies. By participating in the U.N. climate process and mobilizing educators, adults, and young people with our free education and outreach programs, Polar Bears International remains deeply committed to advancing global climate solutions. 

You are a valuable part of this effort. Every time you vote, contact your representatives, become involved in a local climate initiative, or hold a conversation about climate change, you help shape the future we want to see. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously said, "Fight for the things that you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you." 

Protect the Bears

While the world pursues climate solutions that will stabilize the polar bear’s critical sea ice habitat, we are also working to conserve healthy populations across the Arctic. 

One of the best ways to protect current populations is to ensure a stable and uninterrupted denning period for polar bear families. Next month, our field team will conduct our annual Maternal Den Study in Svalbard, Norway, gathering information on key aspects of denning behavior. The more we understand about this vulnerable time in a polar bear’s life, the more we can do to protect denning families as activity increases in a warming Arctic. 

In addition, our team will continue to develop promising new den-detection technology that will allow us to map dens hidden under the snow. By protecting dens, we’ll protect cubs, helping to ensure their future. 

Reducing human-bear conflict is another important aspect of keeping current polar bear populations healthy. As sea ice declines, polar bears are spending more time on land closer to Arctic communities. Along with our partners, we are refining two Detect and Protect systems this year, honing their ability to not only detect moving bodies but to also specifically identify polar bears. If these systems can alert communities before a polar bear enters town, more people and polar bears will be kept safe. 

As we step forward into a new year, I remain deeply grateful to this community’s ardent commitment to a path that will support polar bears, people, and all life on this Earth. You give us hope and you keep us going—and for that we thank you.