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Polar Bear (Endangered Species)

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Polar Bear (Endangered Species)

After being hunted by man for 300 years, polar bears today face two new threats: pollution and global warming.

Ours polaireDecimated by whalers, polar bear numbers began to decline significantly from the early 19th century. Populations continued to drop until 1976, when an international agreement on the conservation of the species was signed.

Despite conservation measures, humans are still the polar bear’s greatest predator, whether by hunting or by exploiting the habitats where the animals live.

While thousands of kilometres might separate the Arctic from industrialized lands, toxic waste has an alarming impact on polar regions. These substances, carried by winds and ocean currents, are found in very high concentrations in Arctic waters and in the tiny marine organisms that feed various species of the region.

At the other end of the food chain, polar bears accumulate toxic concentrations in their body fat that reach three billion times the concentrations found in Arctic waters!

Ours polaireClimate change also poses major challenges for the polar bear. Since the end of the 1990s, accelerated ice melting in the Arctic has significantly reduced its habitat and shortened its hunting season, preventing it from building up the reserves of fat essential to its survival. Resulting malnutrition also negatively impacts the number of births.

In the Arctic, the warming of temperatures is twice as fast as warming observed elsewhere in the world. Many experts fear that these trends could lead to the extinction of the polar bear by the end of the century.

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The global population is currently estimated at under 30,000 individuals, over half of which of which live in Canadian territory. Since 2002, the polar bear has been designated a species of special concern.

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Links
Environment Canada Field Projects: Polar Bears
Ressources naturelles et faune Québec (French website)
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