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Study: Polar Bears Will Not Be Able to Survive on a Terrestrial Diet

polar bearPolar bears. They’re beautiful creatures of the Arctic that have won over the hearts of children and wildlife enthusiasts alike. Could you imagine a world without them?

A new study indicates that this could be the future. The U.S. Geological Survey has found that dietary changes have contributed to the declining health and survival rates of polar bears. The bears naturally feed on marine prey, but these animals are fleeing due to melting ice. Now, polar bears are attempting to feed off of the land, and they have failed to thrive thus far.

“While it’s tempting to think that polar bears could survive by switching to a terrestrial diet, this paper establishes in no uncertain terms that land-based foods do not offer any hope of polar bear salvation,” said Steven Amstrup, co-author of the study. “And, if we don’t save the sea ice, polar bears will indeed be gone.”

While the terrestrial diet does not appear to be sufficient, the researchers note that there is no widespread evidence that a majority of polar bears are feeding off of the land.

“In the regions where terrestrial feeding by polar bears has been documented, polar bear body condition and survival rates have declined,” specified Lead Author Karyn Rode.

In any case, the study has raised awareness of melting ice in some of the coldest regions of the world.

Polar bears also aren’t the only animals being affected — whales, walruses and seals are all being forced to change their migration patterns and feeding habits, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. As a result of the melting ice, sea levels and temperatures are rising around the world. Scientists estimate a 3-foot sea level rise in the U.S. by 2100.

From afar, it seems like a hopeless situation, especially with the amount of ice that has already melted. However, experts note that there are ways to slow the melt and preserve the planet. Reducing reliance on fossil fuels, such as gas, oil and coal, would be an ideal starting point. Utilizing energy-saving technology is also a way to contribute to the battle against global warming. Today, consumers can purchase everything from energy-efficient refrigerators to air conditioners.

By the mid-century, Biological Professor Andrew Derocher believes that the world could lose around two-thirds of its bear population. Whether you love polar bears or you simply want to ensure that the environment is preserved for generations to come, there are easy ways to go green every day.


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