Unusual hunting scenes cast doubt on polar bear diets

A research team at a Polish science base captured a polar bear hunting reindeer in the Svalbard Islands of Norway.

An impressive scene that first appeared in the movie, where polar bears chase reindeer into the water, drag them to the shore, and eat them up.

As the sea ice melts, the Arctic king may be changing his diet.

A dramatic sight unfolded on August 21, 2020 in the Svalbard Islands of Norway. In the summer, sea ice recedes, taking seals that make up the main source of food for polar bears.

A research team at a nearby Polish science base saw it happen and caught a polar bear hunting reindeer for the first time with a camera.

This video shows a young female chasing a male reindeer into a sea of ​​ice, catching it, drowning it, and pulling it to the shore to eat.

Izabela Kulaszewicz, a biologist at the University of Gdansk, said:

“I heard a narrator in the background. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever see this event again, so I definitely have to watch it,” she told AFP.

Up to “modern media”?

The scene was so rare that she co-authored Polar Biology with two other researchers.

In it, they argued that the incident was one of a series of observations suggesting that polar bears are increasingly preying on terrestrial animals to supplement their limited access to seals.

A little over 1,000 km (620 miles) from the Arctic, Svalbard is home to about 300 sit-down polar bears alongside about 20.

Just over 1,000 km (620 miles) from the Arctic, Svalbard is home to about 300 sedentary polar bears, along with about 20,000 reindeer.

Just over 1,000 km (620 miles) from the Arctic, Svalbard has signs that indicate the danger of polar bears, and about 300 sedentary bears live with about 20,000 reindeer.

According to the author of the article, there are signs that polar bears have been hunting reindeer more often in recent decades.

They say two factors are involved. Retreating sea ice has caused bears to stranded on land for extended periods of time, and the number of reindeer has steadily increased in Svalbard since the 1925 hunting ban.

Therefore, they suggest that eating reindeer is a matter of both the need and opportunity for furry white beasts.

However, other experts are careful not to overread the case.

“If polar bears were killing reindeer in the 1950s and 1960s, it would have been very rare to see them in Svalbard at the time, as there were few people, bears and reindeer,” said professor Andrew Delocher. rice field. At the University of Alberta.

“Now, in modern media, everyone has a camera. Social media And “news” spreads rapidly, “he added.

Opportunistic hunter

While high-fat, high-calorie ringed seals make up the staple food, polar bears are also known to feed on eggs, birds, rodents and even dolphins.

Reindeer weigh 70-90 kg (155-200 lbs) as adults and are suitable for supplementing bears during the lean summer months when they have grown long due to global warming.

Important facts about the polar bear, the apex predator of the Arctic Circle

An important fact about the polar bear, the apex predator of the Arctic Circle.

Two days after the Polish researchers filmed the video, the same polar bear was observed devouring another reindeer carcass.

“Reindeer can be important if at least some polar bears have to stay on land for extended periods of time,” said article co-author, Norwegian expert John Ards.

However, experts say the new diet makes no difference in animal fortification. Population size..

“Occasionally successful predation attempts at reindeer may be good for individual bears or two (and the media) in the short term, Population level For either polar bears or reindeer, “said Professor Ian Stirling of the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Polar bears are strong swimmers and are called Ursus maritimus in Latin, but they cannot catch up with reindeer over long distances on land.

Elsewhere in the Arctic, Caribou-as North America reindeer Known-not as vulnerable as their Svalbard cousin. Their alertness seems to have disappeared since the ban on hunting.

Caribou “is also a larger animal, co-evolving with land predators: wolves, wolverines, and grizzly bears on barren ground, making it a more challenging prey,” said Jeff of the conservation group Polar Bear International. York said.

The future of Svalbard looks particularly ominous Polar bear..

“There isn’t enough ice to maintain a polar bear population,” Derocher said.

“Given this trend, I think the Barents Sea polar bear population, including the Svalbard Islands, will disappear during this century.”

Norwegian fine tourist guide to scare polar bears

© 2021 AFP

Quote: A rare hunting scene is a polar bear meal taken from on November 28, 2021 (November 28, 2021). ) Is questioning

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Unusual hunting scenes cast doubt on polar bear diets

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