International Polar Bear Day

International Polar Bear Day is celebrated on February 27. The day is dedicated to learning more about polar bears and the dangers they face.

Polar Bear

The polar bear is related to the brown bear and probably evolved from brown bears which became isolated from the rest of their species. Brown bears and polar bears can mate and produce offspring which can reproduce. The Alaska Brown Bear and the polar bear rival each other for the distinction of being the largest land mammal. Despite their similarities, brown bears and polar bears are unable to survive in each other’s habitats. Polar bears are so adapted to cold that they can’t take temperatures above 50 degrees.

There are about 25,000 polar bears worldwide, but their population is declining. Pollution and poaching are a problem, but global warming is the polar bear’s biggest enemy. Its habitat is disappearing, since sea ice is not as prevalent and the seals the polar bears feed on are dwindling. The summer ice loss in the Arctic is now equal to an area the size of Alaska, Texas, and the state of Washington combined.

Russia, Greenland and the United States have all outlawed hunting of polar bears. Canada allows regulated hunting of about 500 polar bears a year. In Russia, illegal poaching is a problem.

Reducing carbon emissions is good for the environment and will help reverse some of the effects of global warming. Individuals can contribute by purchasing more efficient appliances, unplugging electronics when they’re not in use, walking or riding a bike instead of driving, and planting trees. They can also lobby their governments to pass climate and clean energy legislation.

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