are not mistaken if you think you see a little sadness in the eyes
of the polar bear above. We are all too familiar with the image
of the proud polar bear striding across the arctic ice, but this
bear is tired, hungry and looking out of place slumped on grassland.
is the bear? Hot and exhausted in a zoo perhaps, resting from a
circus act? No, this animal is in its natural habitat- on the shores
of the Hudson Bay. The trouble is that the bear's habitat is changing,
and the bear is suffering as a result.
first bear to hunt on the ice was probably a grizzly – and it took
several hundreds of thousands of years to become adapted to conditions
of the Arctic coastline. White hair for camouflage, concealing
black skin to absorb heat. Polar bears have white fur for camouflage
while stalking prey – seals mainly. To provide insulation and a
store of food, the polar bear has lots of fat.
This is summer time.
times for the bears that live on and off the shores of Hudson Bay. These are the lean months. On the
Hudson Bay the ice completely melts every summer. So between July and November, the bears eat nothing.
This is where a large fat reserve is essential.
problem is that the ice breaks up on average two weeks earlier than
it did ten years ago. The year 2002 was much, much worse than previous
years. The bears have had to last for almost a whole month
extra weeks without food have an impact on all the bears but it
is females with cubs that are affected most. A mother bear
needs to provide milk for her cubs for one or two years. For
some this is just not possible. Some baby cubs simply starve
Scientists working in the Hudson Bay area have found that
for every week the ice breaks up earlier, the bears come ashore 10 kg lighter.
This means females are not able to produce as much milk. It is the smaller, weaker cubs that die first.
Adaptation of an article by CBC. www.tv.cbc.ca
‘The plight of the Hudson Bay polar bears is a warning
that climate change is not something that will happen far off in the future,
it’s happening now!’
Climate campaigner with Greenpeace.