Melissa McKinney expected to see some fluctuation in the polar bears’ mercury levels. But the sudden drop off surprised her.
Human – polar bear interactions are part of life in Arctic communities, but a new study finds that as melting sea ice forces polar bears onto dry land, they are becoming more common and potentially more dangerous.
A new U.S. study of polar bears off Alaska’s coasts says faster-moving sea ice brought on by rapid global warming is adding to the animals’ physiological stress. That adds to problems for polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea, research ecologist George Durner said.
“It was pretty crazy how much water just kind of showed up,” said Michelle St. Martin, whose field season was cut short by melting sea ice.
The legislature recently got an update on nearly 30 ongoing cases or conflicts the state has with the federal government, Alaska’s largest landowner.
The study establishes a relationship between sea ice reduction and polar bear population numbers. The researchers then used that trend to predict how the world’s 26,000 polar bears will fare in the future.
A federal agency has proposed about 350,000 square miles of ocean off Alaska’s north and west coasts as critical habitat for the seal that’s the main prey of polar bears.
For the first time, Alaska researchers plan to use drones with thermal cameras to detect hibernating polar bears and grizzly bears on the North Slope.
The U.S. Geological Survey recently started tracking polar bears using high resolution satellites.
New equipment has given the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the capability to treat polar bears on the scene, which, until now, hasn’t been a possibility.