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Alaska Polar Bear - Describe the Habitat of the Species

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A. Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)

2. Describe the habitat of the species.

The polar bear habitat encompass the entire circumpolar Arctic region. Polar bears have adapted to be able to live in the water and on land. Unlike other bear species, the polar bear are excellent swimmers, and have been spotted more than 100 miles away from land or ice. Polar bears can be found swimming in the frigid oceans waters, or adrift on ice.

The polar bears main habitat is on offshore pack ice, and along costs and island of the Arctic region basically covering the entire circumpolar region. The preferred habitat of the polar bear is the annual ice near the coastlines of continents and islands, where there are large numbers of ringed seals on which these bears feed. Over 40 per cent of all polar bears living today live in Northern Canada, on pack ice and along the shores of the many island there. Polar bears prefer the ice packs to other parts of their habitat because it allows them to remain in close contact with their main food source. Seals. Polar bears will remain in this ice pack habitat all year. They prefer the sea ice over all other places. When summer comes, and the polar regions warm up, the polar bears will travel many miles to remain on the ice, near their food source, seals. Any polar bears that do not stay on the ice when the ice begins to retreat will have to remain on the land, until the ice forms again in the fall. Polar bears can be found swimming in the frigid oceans waters, or adrift on ice

For the polar bears that's habitat happens to be in the southern most part of the polar region, in Manitoba, Canada on the Hudson Bay, find it difficult to follow the retreating ice and are forced to remain on the land. These polar bears live off fat deposits that they have gained from eating well in the winter. As with the polar bears in the northern region, when the ice pack forms again in the fall, the polar bears return to the frozen sea, to the ice packs.

3. What is the range of the species?

This bear is found throughout the circumpolar Arctic on ice-covered waters, from Canada, to Norway, parts of the US, the former USSR and Greenland (Denmark). The furthest south the polar bears occur all year round is James Bay in Canada, which is about the same latitude as London. During the winter, when the ice extends further south, polar bears move as far south as Newfoundland and into the northern Bering Sea. They rarely enter the zone of the central polar basin as there is thick ice all year round and there is little to eat.

The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with eight of the 19 polar bear subpopulations in decline. Vulnerability is mainly caused by habitat loss or destruction.

4. What are threats to the habitat of the species?

The primary threat to Polar bears is the loss of sea ice habitat due to climate change which causes the Polar bear to spend more time on land which makes it susceptible to human disturbance. Polar bears are not endangered, though if hunting was not regulated they would be, due to their slow rates of population growth. Other threats to this species include pollution, poaching, and disturbances from industrial activities.

While the effects of climate change are not certain, it is recognized that even minor climate changes can have profound effects on polar bears and their sea-ice habitat. For example, if climate change results in increased snow



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