Welcome to the world’s foremost resource for information on polar bears and their Arctic habitat. We are Polar Bears International.
A breakdown of everything you need to know about polar bear living.
The world has many names for the polar bear.
Learn why a polar bear’s physique is perfect for the Arctic.
Sea ice is the vast space a polar bear calls home.
Polar bears are adapted to a life on the sea ice.
What makes polar bears different from other bears?
A seasonal look at polar bears from mating to birthing.
How polar bears go about hunting their prey in the Arctic.
What a polar bear needs to survive in the Arctic landscape.
Common misconceptions about polar bears.
How humans have been sharing planet earth with the polar bears.
Meet the people who’ve been intertwined with polar bears.
How to avoid an unwanted polar bear encounter.
Northern communities are taking action to save the polar bears.
What proper captivity can be and how it can help our polar bears.
Arctic tourism can create an emotional bond with the polar bears.
Are polar bears endangered?
Polar bears are listed under a variety of classifications depending on international, national, and regional regulations. Internationally, they are listed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN. In Russia, polar bears are classified as a Red Data Book species, a listing that includes animals considered rare or endangered. In the U.S., polar bears are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Canada considers polar bears a species of special concern under the National Species at Risk Act. On a regional level in Canada, polar bears are listed as threatened in both Manitoba and Ontario under provincial endangered species legislation.
In all cases, the primary conservation concern for polar bears is habitat loss and reduced access to their seal prey due to climate change. Scientists predict that as the Arctic continues to warm, two-thirds of the world's polar bears could disappear within this century. Research also shows that hope remains if action is taken to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions soon.
While rapid loss of sea ice is the primary threat to the polar bear’s long-term survival, other challenges include pollution, increased commercial use of the Arctic, overharvest, disease, and inadequate habitat protection (denning and seasonal resting areas).
At the 2014 meeting of the PBSG, the world's leading polar bear scientists reported that of the 19 subpopulations of polar bears, three were declining, six were stable, and one was increasing. They lacked sufficient data on the status of the remaining nine.
How many polar bears are there?
Scientists can only provide informed estimates. The latest IUCN report estimates there are approximately 26,000 of them.
How big are polar bears?
Very big! Adult males normally weigh 350 to more than 600 kilograms (775 to more than 1,300 pounds). Adult females are smaller, normally weighing 150 to 295 kilograms (330 to 650 pounds). Researchers in Canada estimated one male bear at 800 kilograms (1,700 pounds)!
Scientists usually refer to how tall bears are by measuring them at the shoulder when on all fours. Those heights are typically 1-1.5 meters (3.3-5 feet) for adult polar bears. An adult male may reach over three meters (10 feet) when standing on its hind legs.