Report: Polar Bears Finding News Ways To Hunt As Ice Decreases

Really interesting report from KTOO Public Media via NPR on how some polar bears have gotten creative when it comes to hunting with them literally on thin ice. Here’s a snippet:

She estimates that at least few hundred polar bears live in southeast Greenland, and it turns out that they’re the most genetically isolated polar bears on the planet. They’re distinct from all other 19 polar bear subpopulations that scientists currently recognize in the Arctic.

That may be because these bears are homebodies. All of the tracked bears pretty much stayed in their home fjord or fjords. Occasionally, the bears got caught by a fast sea current that rips down the coast towards southern tip of Greenland, says Laidre, but the bears would quickly swim to shore. “And then they would walk home over the ice sheet to get back to their fjord.”

“The finding of a potential new subpopulation in southeast Greenland is really interesting,” says Todd Atwood, a polar bear researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center in Anchorage. He thinks the bears’ genetics, patterns of movement, and hunting behavior “makes a pretty compelling case” that this is indeed a distinct subpopulation.

The way that these bears hunt using freshwater ice “might buy bears in that area a little bit more time, as pack ice continues to decline, because they are not solely reliant on the pack ice,” says Atwood.