1/25/2011 4:24:33 PM

Tough Year for Canadian Polar Bears

Polar bear on sea iceUnusually warm temperatures and late-forming, thin ice add up to a tough year for eastern Canada's polar bears, says Dr. Andrew Derocher, one of the world's leading polar bear biologists and a scientific advisor to Polar Bears International.

The sea ice is so thin this year that native hunters have only recently ventured onto the ice to hunt. The unusual conditions present a real challenge for polar bears, making it difficult to hunt seals—their main prey—and find mates. Evidence suggests that male polar bear find females during the breeding season by following scented trails, deposited by footpads, over the ice.

Derocher says that the ice conditions will be especially hard on young, inexperienced polar bears and nursing mothers with cubs—and that just one very bad ice year could have a devastating effect on the population.

Photo ©Daniel J. Cox/Natural Exposures.

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