The last polar bears in Canada and Alaska

Found in Canada and Alaska, the polar bear is widely recognized as one of the mammals most threatened by the world's ongoing climate crisis

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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The last polar bears in Canada and Alaska
© Alan Wilson Wikimedia Commons

The polar bear is an iconic species of the Arctic, known for its unique adaptation to the glacial environment. Found in Canada and Alaska, the polar bear is widely recognized as one of the mammals most threatened by the world's ongoing climate crisis.

Let's start by analyzing the conservation status of the polar bear in Canada, whose population represents approximately two-thirds of the global population. Here, the polar bear is legally protected as an endangered species under Canada's Wildlife Act.

The Canadian Environmental Protection Agency plays a central role in monitoring and managing critical areas for this species, such as Hudson Bay. Hudson Bay is an important polar bear habitat in Canada. This is where polar bears spend the summer waiting for the Arctic ice to form, which is their main hunting environment.

However, advancing climate change has led to an early retreat of sea ice, reducing the hunting time available to polar bears. This situation has resulted in a decrease in the physical condition and hunting success rate of these animals, putting their survival at risk.

In Alaska, polar bears are also a protected and managed species under the Alaska Land Use Conservation Plan. The U.S. National Park Service is committed to preserving critical polar bear habitat, such as the United Kingdom Game Preserve and the Alaska Arctic National Preserve.

The last polar bears in Canada and Alaska

However, even in Alaska the polar bear is threatened by the loss of sea ice due to the impact of climate change. Global warming is causing rising water temperatures and shrinking ocean ice shelves.

Polar bears, who depend on sea ice to travel and hunt their prey, often find themselves forced to travel greater distances to find food. Some research has shown a reduction in the average weight of polar bears in Alaska and lower survival rates, particularly among juvenile polar bears.

These data clearly indicate a significant impact of climate change on the polar bear population. To address this critical situation, a global commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change is essential.

This requires immediate and concerted action at the international level. At the same time, it is necessary to continue to manage and protect critical polar bear habitats in Canada and Alaska, limiting the impact of human activities, such as exploration and exploitation of natural resources in the areas where these animals live.

Only through a holistic approach that includes habitat protection and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions can we hope to preserve this iconic species and ensure its survival for future generations. The polar bear is a unique and fascinating creation of nature, and we have a duty to protect it from a threat caused primarily by human activity.