Global climate change draws the polar bear closer to people

Global climate change draws the polar bear closer to people

25 November 2011

Polar bears are increasingly being spotted in areas inhabited by humans. This is a result of climate change and global warming, which destroy their main ice habitats.


The polar bear is the only mammal that has fully adapted to life on the Arctic's drifting sea ice: it can spend its entire life there. But as this ice vanishes, the bear, searching for food, slowly moves down the coastline, finally appearing in places that are home to humans.


In fact, human-polar bear encounters have taken place in the past. For example, these animals have often come ashore in Canada. Special municipal patrol services were formed, and a department devoted to moving bears out of human settlements was established. The Canadian authorities do everything within their power to prevent encounters between polar bears and people. A bear patrol service has also been established on the Chukotka coast. This is a vital initiative and it is imperative that it cover the entire coastline to ensure all the population centres are protected.


It would be wrong to say that global warming is fatal for the polar bear. Consider the history of the animal's evolution. From the first day it appeared on Earth, it has survived at least four major periods of global warming. The climate has been warmer than it is now. Clearly, the polar bear can survive global warming.


Nikita Ovsyanikov, deputy director for research, Wrangel Island State Nature Reserve, PhD (Biology), member of the polar bear expert group under the International Union for Conservation of Nature, member of the research working group under the Russian-US Commission