Polar bears have been at the center of the climate change debate over the course of the last several years. They have been one of the biggest victims throughout the global warming process that has left the population of polar bears dwindling in the coldest places on Earth. In fact, it has gotten to a point now where scientists are learning more, and more about the bears – and how ill-equipped they are to handle hunting when the ice continues to melt.
Polar bears primarily hunt on ice to get to fish and other marine life that exist in the open water. If they do not have access to the ice – then they do not have access to their food supply, and being given the ability to hunt on land doesn’t make their food source any less scarce. In fact, it pretty much makes their situation a thousand times worse. It leaves them eating bird eggs, berries, and other non-sustaining things, which ultimately leaves them withering away, and dying off from starvation – in addition to changing climate.
Karyn Rode, the lead author of the study pointed out that, “A really large bear has high energetic costs when they get up to forage, and these [terrestrial] resources are typically lower in calories or widely dispersed.” The problem right now is that feeding on land has been a contingency plan that has been considered by conservationists to allow polar bears to continue living a normal life. However, this study throws that logic out the window and leaves researchers looking for alternative methods.
At the end of the day it’s about determining what methods can help the population move forward while climate change is hopefully addressed. Rode said, “If terrestrial feeding can’t help, there are other things we need to be thinking about.” This is now the mission that scientists face, and conservationists face, as they move forward and try to determine what will be best for everyone moving forward.