(photo Robert Buchanan/Polar Bears International)
POLAR BEAR FAQs
- Where do polar bears live?
In the circumpolar north in areas where they can hunt seals at openings in the sea ice called leads. There are five nations with polar bears: U.S. (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway. Polar bears do not live in Antarctica. Penguins do.
- Are polar bears endangered?
Experts in polar bear science believe they are. They predict that as the Arctic continues to warm due to climate change, two-thirds of the world’s polar bears could disappear by mid-century—although hope remains if action is taken to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Rapid loss of sea ice is their major threat. Others include pollution, poaching, and industrial impact. Hunting will become a threat if not well regulated.
In 2005, the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) classified polar bears asvulnerable on the IUCN World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species noting that extinction could occur due to sea ice changes.
In May 2008, U.S. Department of the Interior listed the polar bear as a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act. Canada and Russia list the polar bear as a species of concern.
At the 2009 meeting of the PBSG, the world’s leading polar bear scientists reported that of the 19 subpopulations of polar bears, eight were declining, three were stable, and one was increasing. They lacked sufficient data about the remaining seven.
- How many polar bears are there?
Scientists can only provide informed estimates. In 2008, scientists estimated that there might be 20,000 to 25,000 of them.
FIND OUT MORE ON THE PBI WEBSITE