Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)

BECOMING LISTED

The polar bear became listed due to climate change and increasing lose of arctic habitat, with the population increasing and over use of resources to industrialize

Has been listed vulnerable since 1982 according to the Red List, and recently in 2008 became endangered according to the ESA

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

  • February 16, 2005- Center for Biological Diversity files a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the polar bear as threatened, world-wide under the Endangered Species
  • December 27, 2006- with the court-approved settlement agreement, the Service submits a 12 month finding and proposes to protect the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act
  • September 7, 2007- USGS announces their findings of polar bear including loss of sea ice, reduction of habitat and population of polar bear species, and likelihood of further population decrease heavily due to climate change
  • April 28, 2008- The United States District Court for the Northern District of California orders the Department of Interior and US Fish and Wildlife Service to make a final decision on whether or not add the polar bear to the list of threatened and endangered species
  • May 15, 2008- The Service published a Final Rule in the Federal Register listing the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

What does a Polar Bear look like?

  • Largest land carnivore
  • Males 8 - 9 feet nose to tail; females 6 - 7 feet
  • Adult males 550 - 1,320 lbs, females 200-700 lbs
  • Their fur is thicker than any other bears’ and covers even their feet for warmth and traction on ice
  • their front feet are large, flat and oar-like, making them excellent swimmers
  • Polar bears' fur consists of a dense, insulating underfur topped by guard hairs of various lengths. It is not actually white—it just looks that way
  • Each hair is pigment free and transparent with a hollow core that scatters and reflects visible light
  • Polar bears have black skin under which there is a layer of fat that can measure up to 4.5 inches thick

Where does a Polar Bear live?

Polar Bear habitat's
  • Polar bears live in the circumpolar north in areas where they can hunt their primary prey, ice seals. They are found in Canada (home to roughly 60% of the world's polar bears), the U.S. (Alaska), Greenland, Russia, and Norway (the Svalbard archipelago)

Threats to the Species

  • commercial and residential development- building real estate or buildings where the polar bear habitat is
  • climate change and severe weather- this could be any where from hurricanes, melting of the ice caps, that could destruct it's habitat
  • energy production and mining- pipe lines or increased home intrusion for human purposes
  • hunting and trapping terrestrial animals- for use of skin, fur or food
  • pollution- oil spills

Current Population

26,000 Polar Bears

19 Types of Polar Bears

Population Trend of the Polar Bear

The population is labeled "Vulnerable" but continuing to decrease because of ice caps melting due to Climate Change being the biggest factors of all

Habitat- mainly ice caps and snow dens on land; some females give birth to cubs on land and in Summer months wait for ice to freeze over so remain on land

Ecology-occur at low densities throughout the Arctic and are more abundant in shallower, ice-covered waters associated with the continental shelf where currents increase biological productivity. The Polar Bear’s reproductive rate is among the lowest in all mammals. Cub mortality is high in the first year, with the probability of cub survival largely determined by maternal condition.

most carnivorous of the extant species of bears- relies on seals, fish and some birds

Systems-Terrestrial; Marine

Movement Patterns- nomadic

Species effect in Ecosystem

  • completely destroy the Arctic ecosystem with Polar Bears being the top preadator
  • melted permafrost- altering Arctic terrestrial land not allowing shrubs to grow, leading the caribou to not have a source of food
  • The Arctic’s extreme environmental conditions have limited our opportunities to study this complex food web of the food chain
  • arctic plankton, not only provide food at the base of the food web, they also convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into organic matter that eventually sinks to the ocean bottom, effectively extracting a heat-trapping greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.
  • cant't get their main source of food (seals) when ice caps are melting leading to starvation, drowning, and lower cub survival rate leading to less and less amounts of arctic bears

Protection

  • address climate change; WWF advocates directly for governments to recognize the effects of climate change on polar bears.
  • WWF supports community projects in Alaska and Russia to prevent unintended and potentially fatal encounters between polar bears and people
  • Local polar bear patrol teams help keep towns and bears safe.
  • More press and news coverage to promote saving the artic
  • Scientists are currently monitoring the conditions and movement of polar bears; WWF runs a polar bear tracker to see movements to make sure no conflicts happen, revealing changes and adaptions over time
  • ensure that wherever industrial development takes place, it is sustainable and does not damage wildlife populations and ecosystems to any great extent
  • donations to "adopt" a polar bear to help rebuild habitats and make sure the environment is sustainable
  • Coca Cola set up fundraiser with WWF to help save the polar bears
  • areas around the world are protected making sure humans do not come into contact in their habitats

Credits:

Created with images by Rémi. - "Polar Bear" • NASA Goddard Photo and Video - "Ponds on the Ocean" • skeeze - "polar bear zoo wildlife"

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