The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a carnivorous bear whose native
range lies largely within the
Arctic Circle, encompassing the Arctic
Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is a large
bear, approximately the same size as the omnivorous
Kodiak bear (Ursus
arctos middendorffi). A boar (adult male) weighs around
350–700 kg (772–1,543 lb), while a sow (adult female)
is about half that size. Although it is the sister species of the
brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrower ecological niche,
with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for
moving across snow, ice and open water, and for hunting seals, which
make up most of its diet. Although most polar bears are born on
land, they spend most of their time on the sea ice. Their scientific
name means "maritime bear" and derives from this fact. Polar bears
hunt their preferred food of seals from the edge of sea ice, often
living off fat reserves when no sea ice is present. Because of their
dependence on the sea ice, polar bears are classified as marine
Because of expected habitat loss caused by climate change, the polar
bear is classified as a vulnerable species, and at least three of the
nineteen polar bear subpopulations are currently in decline.
However, at least two of the nineteen subpopulations are currently
increasing, while another six are considered stable. For decades,
large-scale hunting raised international concern for the future of the
species, but populations rebounded after controls and quotas began to
take effect. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key
figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of circumpolar
peoples, and polar bears remain important in their cultures.
Historically, the polar bear has also been known as the white
1 Naming and etymology
2 Taxonomy and evolution
3 Population and distribution
5 Physical characteristics
6 Life history and behaviour
6.1 Hunting and diet
6.1.1 Dietary flexibility
6.2 Reproduction and lifecycle
6.2.1 Maternity denning and early life
6.2.2 Later life
6.2.3 Life expectancy
6.3 Ecological role
6.4 Long-distance swimming and diving
7.1 Indigenous people
7.2 History of commercial harvest
7.3 Contemporary regulations
7.3.5 United States
8 Conservation status, threats and controversies
8.1 Climate change
8.3 Oil and gas development
8.5 Controversy over species protection
9 In culture
9.1 Indigenous folklore
9.2 Symbols and mascots
10 See also
13 Further reading
14 External links
Naming and etymology
Constantine John Phipps
Constantine John Phipps was the first to describe the polar bear as a
distinct species in 1774. He chose the scientific name Ursus
Latin for 'maritime bear', due to the animal's
native habitat. The
Inuit refer to the animal as nanook
(transliterated as nanuq in the Inupiat language). The Yupik
also refer to the bear as nanuuk in Siberian Yupik. The bear is
umka in the Chukchi language. In Russian, it is usually called
бе́лый медве́дь (bélyj medvédj, the white bear),
though an older word still in use is ошку́й (Oshkúj, which
comes from the Komi oski, "bear"). In Quebec, the polar bear is
referred to as ours blanc ("white bear") or ours polaire ("polar
bear"). In the Norwegian-administered
Svalbard archipelago, the
polar bear is referred to as Isbjørn ("ice bear").
The polar bear was previously considered to be in its own genus,
Thalarctos. However, evidence of hybrids between polar bears and
brown bears, and of the recent evolutionary divergence of the two
species, does not support the establishment of this separate genus,
and the accepted scientific name is now therefore Ursus maritimus, as
Phipps originally proposed.
Taxonomy and evolution
Polar bears have evolved adaptations for
Arctic life. For example,
large furry feet and short, sharp, stocky claws give them good
traction on ice.
The bear family, Ursidae, is thought to have split from other
carnivorans about 38 million years ago. The
originated approximately 4.2 million years ago. The oldest known
polar bear fossil is a 130,000 to 110,000-year-old jaw bone, found on
Prince Charles Foreland
Prince Charles Foreland in 2004. Fossils show that between 10,000
and 20,000 years ago, the polar bear's molar teeth changed
significantly from those of the brown bear. Polar bears are
thought to have diverged from a population of brown bears that became
isolated during a period of glaciation in the Pleistocene from the
eastern part of Siberia, (from
Kamchatka and the Kolym Peninsula).
The evidence from
DNA analysis is more complex. The mitochondrial DNA
(mtDNA) of the polar bear diverged from the brown bear, Ursus arctos,
roughly 150,000 years ago. Further, some clades of brown bear, as
assessed by their mtDNA, are more closely related to polar bears than
to other brown bears, meaning that the polar bear might not be
considered a species under some species concepts. The mt
extinct Irish brown bears is particularly close to polar bears. A
comparison of the nuclear genome of polar bears with that of brown
bears revealed a different pattern, the two forming genetically
distinct clades that diverged approximately 603,000 years ago,
although the latest research is based on analysis of the complete
genomes (rather than just the mitochondria or partial nuclear genomes)
of polar and brown bears, and establishes the divergence of polar and
brown bears at 400,000 years ago.
However, the two species have mated intermittently for all that time,
most likely coming into contact with each other during warming
periods, when polar bears were driven onto land and brown bears
migrated northward. Most brown bears have about 2 percent genetic
material from polar bears, but one population, the ABC Islands bears
has between 5 percent and 10 percent polar bear genes, indicating more
frequent and recent mating. Polar bears can breed with brown bears
to produce fertile grizzly–polar bear hybrids, rather than
indicating that they have only recently diverged, the new evidence
suggests more frequent mating has continued over a longer period of
time, and thus the two bears remain genetically similar. However,
because neither species can survive long in the other's ecological
niche, and because they have different morphology, metabolism, social
and feeding behaviours, and other phenotypic characteristics, the two
bears are generally classified as separate species.
When the polar bear was originally documented, two subspecies were
identified: Ursus maritimus maritimus by Constantine J. Phipps in
1774, and Ursus maritimus marinus by
Peter Simon Pallas
Peter Simon Pallas in 1776.
This distinction has since been invalidated. One alleged
fossil subspecies has been identified:
Ursus maritimus tyrannus
Ursus maritimus tyrannus became
extinct during the Pleistocene. U.m. tyrannus was significantly larger
than the living subspecies. However, recent reanalysis of the
fossil suggests that it was actually a type of brown bear.
Population and distribution
Polar bears investigate the submarine USS Honolulu 450 kilometres
(280 mi) from the North Pole
The polar bear is found in the
Arctic Circle and adjacent land masses
as far south as Newfoundland. Due to the absence of human development
in its remote habitat, it retains more of its original range than any
other extant carnivore. While they are rare north of 88°, there
is evidence that they range all the way across the Arctic, and as far
James Bay in Canada. Their southernmost range is near the
boundary between the subarctic and humid continental climate zones.
They can occasionally drift widely with the sea ice, and there have
been anecdotal sightings as far south as
Berlevåg on the Norwegian
mainland and the
Kuril Islands in the
Sea of Okhotsk. It is difficult
to estimate a global population of polar bears as much of the range
has been poorly studied; however, biologists use a working estimate of
about 20–25,000 or 22–31,000 polar bears worldwide.
There are 19 generally recognized, discrete subpopulations, though
polar bears are thought to exist only in low densities in the area of
Arctic Basin. The subpopulations display seasonal fidelity
to particular areas, but
DNA studies show that they are not
reproductively isolated. The thirteen North American
subpopulations range from the Beaufort
Sea south to
Hudson Bay and
Baffin Bay in western
Greenland and account for about 54% of
the global population.
Polar bears play-fighting
The range includes the territory of five nations:
Norway (Svalbard), Russia, the
United States (Alaska) and Canada.
These five nations are the signatories of the International Agreement
on the Conservation of Polar Bears, which mandates cooperation on
research and conservation efforts throughout the polar bear's range.
Modern methods of tracking polar bear populations have been
implemented only since the mid-1980s, and are expensive to perform
consistently over a large area. The most accurate counts require
flying a helicopter in the
Arctic climate to find polar bears,
shooting a tranquilizer dart at the bear to sedate it, and then
tagging the bear. In Nunavut, some
Inuit have reported increases
in bear sightings around human settlements in recent years, leading to
a belief that populations are increasing. Scientists have responded by
noting that hungry bears may be congregating around human settlements,
leading to the illusion that populations are higher than they actually
are. The Polar
Bear Specialist Group of the
IUCN Species Survival
Commission takes the position that "estimates of subpopulation size or
sustainable harvest levels should not be made solely on the basis of
traditional ecological knowledge without supporting scientific
Of the 19 recognized polar bear subpopulations, three are declining,
six are stable, one is increasing, and nine have insufficient data, as
Polar bear jumping on fast ice
The polar bear is a marine mammal because it spends many months of the
year at sea. However, it is the only living marine mammal with
powerful, large limbs and feet that allow them to cover miles on foot
and run on land. Its preferred habitat is the annual sea ice
covering the waters over the continental shelf and the Arctic
inter-island archipelagos. These areas, known as the "
Arctic ring of
life", have high biological productivity in comparison to the deep
waters of the high Arctic. The polar bear tends to frequent
areas where sea ice meets water, such as polynyas and leads (temporary
stretches of open water in
Arctic ice), to hunt the seals that make up
most of its diet. Freshwater is limited in these environments
because it is either locked up in snow or saline. Polar bears are able
to produce water through the metabolism of fats found in seal
blubber. Polar bears are therefore found primarily along the
perimeter of the polar ice pack, rather than in the Polar Basin close
North Pole where the density of seals is low.
Annual ice contains areas of water that appear and disappear
throughout the year as the weather changes. Seals migrate in response
to these changes, and polar bears must follow their prey. In
Hudson Bay, James Bay, and some other areas, the ice melts completely
each summer (an event often referred to as "ice-floe breakup"),
forcing polar bears to go onto land and wait through the months until
the next freeze-up. In the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, polar bears
retreat each summer to the ice further north that remains frozen
Skull, as illustrated by N. N. Kondakov
Polar bear skeleton
Captive polar bear swimming
The only other bear similar in size to the polar bear is the Kodiak
bear, which is a subspecies of brown bear. Adult male polar bears
weigh 350–700 kg (772–1,543 lb) and measure 2.4–3
metres (7 ft 10 in–9 ft 10 in) in total
Guinness Book of World Records
Guinness Book of World Records listed the average male
as having a body mass of 385 to 410 kg (849 to 904 lb) and a
shoulder height of 133 cm (4 ft 4 in), slightly smaller
than the average male Kodiak bears. Around the Beaufort Sea,
however, mature males reportedly average 450 kg
(992 lb). Adult females are roughly half the size of males
and normally weigh 150–250 kg (331–551 lb), measuring
1.8–2.4 metres (5 ft 11 in–7 ft 10 in) in
length. Elsewhere, a slightly larger estimated average weight of
260 kg (573 lb) was claimed for adult females. When
pregnant, however, females can weigh as much as 500 kg
(1,102 lb). The polar bear is among the most sexually
dimorphic of mammals, surpassed only by the pinnipeds such as elephant
seals. The largest polar bear on record, reportedly weighing
1,002 kg (2,209 lb), was a male shot at
Kotzebue Sound in
Alaska in 1960. This specimen, when mounted, stood
3.39 m (11 ft 1 in) tall on its hindlegs. The
shoulder height of an adult polar bear is 122 to 160 cm
(4 ft 0 in to 5 ft 3 in). While all bears
are short-tailed, the polar bear's tail is relatively the shortest
amongst living bears, ranging from 7 to 13 cm (2.8 to
5.1 in) in length.
Compared with its closest relative, the brown bear, the polar bear has
a more elongated body build and a longer skull and nose. As
Allen's rule for a northerly animal, the legs are stocky
and the ears and tail are small. However, the feet are very large
to distribute load when walking on snow or thin ice and to provide
propulsion when swimming; they may measure 30 cm (12 in)
across in an adult. The pads of the paws are covered with small,
soft papillae (dermal bumps), which provide traction on the ice.
The polar bear's claws are short and stocky compared to those of the
brown bear, perhaps to serve the former's need to grip heavy prey and
ice. The claws are deeply scooped on the underside to assist in
digging in the ice of the natural habitat. Research of injury patterns
in polar bear forelimbs found injuries to the right forelimb to be
more frequent than those to the left, suggesting, perhaps,
right-handedness. Unlike the brown bear, polar bears in captivity
are rarely overweight or particularly large, possibly as a reaction to
the warm conditions of most zoos.
The 42 teeth of a polar bear reflect its highly carnivorous diet.
The cheek teeth are smaller and more jagged than in the brown bear,
and the canines are larger and sharper. The dental formula is
Polar bears are superbly insulated by up to 10 cm (4 in) of
adipose tissue, their hide and their fur; they overheat at
temperatures above 10 °C (50 °F), and are nearly invisible
under infrared photography.
Polar bear fur consists of a layer of
dense underfur and an outer layer of guard hairs, which appear white
to tan but are actually transparent. Two genes that are known to
influence melanin production, LYST and AIM1, are both mutated in polar
bears, possibly leading to the absence on this pigment in their
fur. The guard hair is 5–15 cm (2–6 in) over most of
the body. Polar bears gradually moult from May to August, but,
Arctic mammals, they do not shed their coat for a darker
shade to provide camouflage in summer conditions. The hollow guard
hairs of a polar bear coat were once thought to act as fiber-optic
tubes to conduct light to its black skin, where it could be absorbed;
however, this hypothesis was disproved by a study in 1998.
The white coat usually yellows with age. When kept in captivity in
warm, humid conditions, the fur may turn a pale shade of green due to
algae growing inside the guard hairs. Males have significantly
longer hairs on their forelegs, which increase in length until the
bear reaches 14 years of age. The male's ornamental foreleg hair is
thought to attract females, serving a similar function to the lion's
The polar bear has an extremely well developed sense of smell, being
able to detect seals nearly 1.6 km (1 mi) away and buried
under 1 m (3 ft) of snow. Its hearing is about as acute
as that of a human, and its vision is also good at long distances.
The polar bear is an excellent swimmer and often will swim for
days. One bear swam continuously for 9 days in the frigid Bering
Sea for 700 km (400 mi) to reach ice far from land. She then
travelled another 1,800 km (1,100 mi). During the swim, the
bear lost 22% of her body mass and her yearling cub died. With its
body fat providing buoyancy, the bear swims in a dog paddle fashion
using its large forepaws for propulsion. Polar bears can swim
10 km/h (6 mph). When walking, the polar bear tends to have
a lumbering gait and maintains an average speed of around
5.6 km/h (3.5 mph). When sprinting, they can reach up to
40 km/h (25 mph).
Life history and behaviour
Subadult polar bear males frequently play-fight. During the mating
season, actual fighting is intense and often leaves scars or broken
Unlike brown bears, polar bears are not territorial. Although
stereotyped as being voraciously aggressive, they are normally
cautious in confrontations, and often choose to escape rather than
fight. Satiated polar bears rarely attack humans unless severely
provoked. However, due to their lack of prior human
interaction, hungry polar bears are extremely unpredictable, fearless
towards people and are known to kill and sometimes eat humans.
Many attacks by brown bears are the result of surprising the animal,
which is not the case with the polar bear. Polar bears are stealth
hunters, and the victim is often unaware of the bear's presence until
the attack is underway. Whereas brown bears often maul a person
and then leave, polar bear attacks are more likely to be predatory and
are almost always fatal. However, due to the very small human
population around the Arctic, such attacks are rare. Michio Hoshino, a
Japanese wildlife photographer, was once pursued briefly by a hungry
male polar bear in northern Alaska. According to Hoshino, the bear
started running but Hoshino made it to his truck. The bear was able to
reach the truck and tore one of the doors off the truck before Hoshino
was able to drive off.
In general, adult polar bears live solitary lives. Yet, they have
often been seen playing together for hours at a time and even sleeping
in an embrace, and polar bear zoologist Nikita Ovsianikov has
described adult males as having "well-developed friendships." Cubs
are especially playful as well. Among young males in particular,
play-fighting may be a means of practicing for serious competition
during mating seasons later in life. Polar bears are usually quiet
but do communicate with various sounds and vocalizations. Females
communicate with their young with moans and chuffs, and the distress
calls of both cubs and subadults consists of bleats. Cubs may hum
while nursing. When nervous, bears produce huffs, chuffs and
snorts while hisses, growls and roars are signs of aggression.
Chemical communication can also be important: bears leave behind their
scent in their tracks which allow individuals to keep track of one
another in the vast
In 1992, a photographer near Churchill took a now widely circulated
set of photographs of a polar bear playing with a Canadian Eskimo Dog
Canis lupus familiaris) a tenth of its size. The pair
wrestled harmlessly together each afternoon for ten days in a row for
no apparent reason, although the bear may have been trying to
demonstrate its friendliness in the hope of sharing the kennel's
food. This kind of social interaction is uncommon; it is far more
typical for polar bears to behave aggressively towards dogs.
Hunting and diet
Long muzzle and neck of the polar bear help it to search in deep holes
for seals, while powerful hindquarters enable it to drag massive
The polar bear is the most carnivorous member of the bear family, and
throughout most of its range, its diet primarily consists of ringed
Pusa hispida) and bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus). The Arctic
is home to millions of seals, which become prey when they surface in
holes in the ice in order to breathe, or when they haul out on the ice
to rest. Polar bears hunt primarily at the interface between
ice, water, and air; they only rarely catch seals on land or in open
The polar bear's most common hunting method is called
still-hunting: the bear uses its excellent sense of smell to
locate a seal breathing hole, and crouches nearby in silence for a
seal to appear. The bear may lay in wait for several hours. When the
seal exhales, the bear smells its breath, reaches into the hole with a
forepaw, and drags it out onto the ice. The polar bear kills the seal
by biting its head to crush its skull. The polar bear also hunts by
stalking seals resting on the ice: upon spotting a seal, it walks to
within 90 m (100 yd), and then crouches. If the seal does
not notice, the bear creeps to within 9 to 12 m (30 to
40 ft) of the seal and then suddenly rushes forth to attack.
A third hunting method is to raid the birth lairs that female seals
create in the snow.
A widespread legend tells that polar bears cover their black noses
with their paws when hunting. This behaviour, if it happens, is rare
– although the story exists in the oral history of northern peoples
and in accounts by early
Arctic explorers, there is no record of an
eyewitness account of the behaviour in recent decades.
Polar bear feeding on a bearded seal
Mature bears tend to eat only the calorie-rich skin and blubber of the
seal, which are highly digestible, whereas younger bears consume
the protein-rich red meat. Studies have also photographed polar
bears scaling near-vertical cliffs, to eat birds' chicks and eggs.
For subadult bears, which are independent of their mother but have not
yet gained enough experience and body size to successfully hunt seals,
scavenging the carcasses from other bears' kills is an important
source of nutrition. Subadults may also be forced to accept a
half-eaten carcass if they kill a seal but cannot defend it from
larger polar bears. After feeding, polar bears wash themselves with
water or snow.
Although polar bears are extraordinarily powerful, its primary prey
species, the ringed seal, is much smaller than itself, and many of the
seals hunted are pups rather than adults. Ringed seals are born
weighing 5.4 kg (12 lb) and grown to an estimated average
weight of only 60 kg (130 lb). They also in places
prey heavily upon the harp seal (
Pusa groenlandica) or the harbor
seal. The bearded seal, on the other hand, can be nearly the same
size as the bear itself, averaging 270 kg (600 lb).
Adult male bearded seals, at 350 to 500 kg (770 to 1,100 lb)
are too large for a female bear to overtake, and so are potential prey
only for mature male bears. Large males also occasionally attempt
to hunt and kill even larger prey items. It can kill an adult
walrus (Odobenus rosmarus), although this is rarely attempted.
At up to 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) and a typical adult mass range
of 600 to 1,500 kg (1,300 to 3,300 lb), a walrus can be more
than twice the bear's weight, and has up to 1-metre
(3 ft)-long ivory tusks that can be used as formidable weapons. A
polar bear may charge a group of walruses, with the goal of separating
a young, infirm, or injured walrus from the pod. They will even attack
adult walruses when their diving holes have frozen over or intercept
them before they can get back to the diving hole in the ice. Yet,
polar bears will very seldom attack full-grown adult walruses, with
the largest male walrus probably invulnerable unless otherwise injured
or incapacitated. Since an attack on a walrus tends to be an extremely
protracted and exhausting venture, bears have been known to back down
from the attack after making the initial injury to the walrus.
Polar bears have also been seen to prey on beluga whales
(Delphinapterus leucas) and narwhals (Monodon monoceros), by
swiping at them at breathing holes. The whales are of similar size to
the walrus and nearly as difficult for the bear to subdue.
Most terrestrial animals in the
Arctic can outrun the polar bear on
land as polar bears overheat quickly, and most marine animals the bear
encounters can outswim it. In some areas, the polar bear's diet is
supplemented by walrus calves and by the carcasses of dead adult
walruses or whales, whose blubber is readily devoured even when
rotten. Polar bears sometimes swim underwater to catch fish like
Arctic charr or the fourhorn sculpin.
Some characteristic postures:
assessing a situation;
With the exception of pregnant females, polar bears are active
year-round, although they have a vestigial hibernation induction
trigger in their blood. Unlike brown and black bears, polar bears are
capable of fasting for up to several months during late summer and
early fall, when they cannot hunt for seals because the sea is
unfrozen. When sea ice is unavailable during summer and early
autumn, some populations live off fat reserves for months at a
time, as polar bears do not 'hibernate' any time of the year.
Being both curious animals and scavengers, polar bears
investigate and consume garbage where they come into contact with
humans. Polar bears may attempt to consume almost anything
they can find, including hazardous substances such as styrofoam,
plastic, car batteries, ethylene glycol, hydraulic fluid, and motor
oil. The dump in
Churchill, Manitoba was closed in 2006 to
protect bears, and waste is now recycled or transported to Thompson,
Although seal predation is the primary and an indispensable way of
life for most polar bears, when alternatives are present they are
quite flexible. Polar bears consume a wide variety of other wild
foods, including muskox (Ovibos moschatus), reindeer (Rangifer
tarandus), birds, eggs, rodents, crabs, other crustaceans and
other polar bears. They may also eat plants, including berries,
roots, and kelp; however, none of these have been a significant
part of their diet, except for beachcast marine mammal carcasses.
Given the change in climate, with ice breaking up in areas such as the
Hudson Bay earlier than it used to, polar bears are exploiting food
resources such as snow geese and eggs, and plants such as lyme grass
in increased quantities. When stalking land animals, such as
muskox, reindeer, and even willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus),
polar bears appear to make use of vegetative cover and wind direction
to bring them as close to their prey as possible before attacking.
Polar bears have been observed to hunt the small
Svalbard reindeer (R.
t. platyrhynchus), which weigh only 40 to 60 kg (90 to
130 lb) as adults, as well as the barren-ground caribou (R. t.
groenlandicus), which is about twice as heavy as that. Adult
muskox, which can weigh 450 kg (1,000 lb) or more, are a
more formidable quarry. Although ungulates are not typical prey,
the killing of one during the summer months can greatly increase the
odds of survival during that lean period. Like the brown bear, most
ungulate prey of polar bears is likely to be young, sickly or injured
specimens rather than healthy adults. The polar bear's metabolism
is specialized to require large amounts of fat from marine mammals,
and it cannot derive sufficient caloric intake from terrestrial
In their southern range, especially near
Hudson Bay and James Bay,
Canadian polar bears endure all summer without sea ice to hunt
from. Here, their food ecology shows their dietary flexibility.
They still manage to consume some seals, but they are food-deprived in
summer as only marine mammal carcasses are an important alternative
without sea ice, especially carcasses of the beluga whale. These
alternatives may reduce the rate of weight loss of bears when on
land. One scientist found that 71% of the
Hudson Bay bears had
fed on seaweed (marine algae) and that about half were feeding on
birds such as the dovekie and sea ducks, especially the
long-tailed duck (53%) and common eider, by swimming underwater to
catch them. They were also diving to feed on blue mussels and other
underwater food sources like the green sea urchin. 24% had eaten moss
recently, 19% had consumed grass, 34% had eaten black crowberry and
about half had consumed willows. This study illustrates the polar
bear's dietary flexibility but it does not represent its life history
elsewhere. Most polar bears elsewhere will never have access to these
alternatives, except for the marine mammal carcasses that are
important wherever they occur.
In Svalbard, polar bears were observed to kill white-beaked dolphins
during spring, when the dolphins were trapped in the sea ice. The
bears then proceeded to cache the carcasses, which remained and were
eaten during the ice-free summer and autumn.
Reproduction and lifecycle
Cubs are born helpless and typically nurse for two and a half years
Courtship and mating take place on the sea ice in April and May, when
polar bears congregate in the best seal hunting areas. A male may
follow the tracks of a breeding female for 100 km (60 mi) or
more, and after finding her engage in intense fighting with other
males over mating rights, fights that often result in scars and broken
teeth. Polar bears have a generally polygynous mating system;
recent genetic testing of mothers and cubs, however, has uncovered
cases of litters in which cubs have different fathers. Partners
stay together and mate repeatedly for an entire week; the mating
ritual induces ovulation in the female.
After mating, the fertilized egg remains in a suspended state until
August or September. During these four months, the pregnant female
eats prodigious amounts of food, gaining at least 200 kg
(440 lb) and often more than doubling her body weight.
Maternity denning and early life
Mother and cub on Svalbard
When the ice floes are at their minimum in the fall, ending the
possibility of hunting, each pregnant female digs a maternity den
consisting of a narrow entrance tunnel leading to one to three
chambers. Most maternity dens are in snowdrifts, but may also be
made underground in permafrost if it is not sufficiently cold yet for
snow. In most subpopulations, maternity dens are situated on land
a few kilometers from the coast, and the individuals in a
subpopulation tend to reuse the same denning areas each year. The
polar bears that do not den on land make their dens on the sea ice. In
the den, she enters a dormant state similar to hibernation. This
hibernation-like state does not consist of continuous sleeping;
however, the bear's heart rate slows from 46 to 27 beats per
minute. Her body temperature does not decrease during this period
as it would for a typical mammal in hibernation.
Between November and February, cubs are born blind, covered with a
light down fur, and weighing less than 0.9 kg (2.0 lb),
but in captivity they might be delivered in the earlier months. The
earliest recorded birth of polar bears in captivity was on 11 October
2011 in the Toronto Zoo. On average, each litter has two
cubs. The family remains in the den until mid-February to
mid-April, with the mother maintaining her fast while nursing her cubs
on a fat-rich milk. By the time the mother breaks open the
entrance to the den, her cubs weigh about 10 to 15 kilograms (22 to
33 lb). For about 12 to 15 days, the family spends time
outside the den while remaining in its vicinity, the mother grazing on
vegetation while the cubs become used to walking and playing.
Then they begin the long walk from the denning area to the sea ice,
where the mother can once again catch seals. Depending on the
timing of ice-floe breakup in the fall, she may have fasted for up to
eight months. During this time, cubs playfully imitate the
mother's hunting methods in preparation for later life.
Female polar bears are noted for both their affection towards their
offspring, and their valor in protecting
them. Multiple cases of adoption of wild cubs have
been confirmed by genetic testing. Adult male bears occasionally
kill and eat polar bear cubs. As of 2006, in Alaska, 42% of cubs
were reaching 12 months of age, down from 65% in 1991. In most
areas, cubs are weaned at two and a half years of age, when the
mother chases them away or abandons them. The Western Hudson Bay
subpopulation is unusual in that its female polar bears sometimes wean
their cubs at only one and a half years. This was the case for
40% of cubs there in the early 1980s; however by the 1990s, fewer than
20% of cubs were weaned this young. After the mother leaves,
sibling cubs sometimes travel and share food together for weeks or
Females begin to breed at the age of four years in most areas, and
five years in the Beaufort
Sea area. Males usually reach sexual
maturity at six years; however, as competition for females is fierce,
many do not breed until the age of eight or ten. A study in
Hudson Bay indicated that both the reproductive success and the
maternal weight of females peaked in their mid-teens.
Polar bears appear to be less affected by infectious diseases and
parasites than most terrestrial mammals. Polar bears are
especially susceptible to Trichinella, a parasitic roundworm they
contract through cannibalism, although infections are usually not
fatal. Only one case of a polar bear with rabies has been
documented, even though polar bears frequently interact with Arctic
foxes, which often carry rabies. Bacterial leptospirosis and
Morbillivirus have been recorded. Polar bears sometimes have problems
with various skin diseases that may be caused by mites or other
Polar bears rarely live beyond 25 years. The oldest wild bears on
record died at age 32, whereas the oldest captive was a female who
died in 1991, age 43. The causes of death in wild adult polar
bears are poorly understood, as carcasses are rarely found in the
species's frigid habitat. In the wild, old polar bears eventually
become too weak to catch food, and gradually starve to death. Polar
bears injured in fights or accidents may either die from their
injuries or become unable to hunt effectively, leading to
The polar bear is the apex predator within its range, and is a
keystone species for the Arctic. Several animal species,
Arctic foxes (
Vulpes lagopus) and glaucous gulls (Larus
hyperboreus), routinely scavenge polar bear kills.
The relationship between ringed seals and polar bears is so close that
the abundance of ringed seals in some areas appears to regulate the
density of polar bears, while polar bear predation in turn regulates
density and reproductive success of ringed seals. The evolutionary
pressure of polar bear predation on seals probably accounts for some
significant differences between
Arctic and Antarctic seals. Compared
to the Antarctic, where there is no major surface predator, Arctic
seals use more breathing holes per individual, appear more restless
when hauled out on the ice, and rarely defecate on the ice. The
baby fur of most
Arctic seal species is white, presumably to provide
camouflage from predators, whereas Antarctic seals all have dark fur
Brown bears tend to dominate polar bears in disputes over
carcasses, and dead polar bear cubs have been found in brown bear
dens. Wolves are rarely encountered by polar bears, though there
are two records of
Arctic wolf (
Canis lupus arctos) packs killing
polar bear cubs. Adult polar bears are occasionally vulnerable to
predation by orcas (Orcinus orca) while swimming, but they are rarely
reported as taken and bears are likely to avoid entering the water if
possible if they detect an orca pod in the area. The melting sea ice
Arctic may be causing an increase of orcas in the
which may increase the risk of predation on polar bears but also may
benefit the bears by providing more whale carcasses that they can
scavenge. The remains of polar bears have found in the
stomachs of large
Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus), although
it certainly cannot be ruled out that the bears were merely scavenged
by this slow-moving, unusual shark. A rather unlikely killer
of a grown polar bear has reportedly included a wolverine (Gulo gulo),
anecedotely reported to have suffocated a bear in a zoo with a bite to
the throat during a conflict. This report may well be dubious,
however. Polar bears are sometimes the host of arctic mites such
as Alaskozetes antarcticus.
Long-distance swimming and diving
Researchers tracked 52 sows in the southern Beaufort
Sea off Alaska
with GPS system collars; no boars were involved in the study due to
males' necks being too thick for the GPS-equipped collars. Fifty
long-distance swims were recorded; the longest at 354 kilometres
(220 mi), with an average of 155 kilometres (96 mi). The
length of these swims ranged from most of a day to ten days. Ten of
the sows had a cub swim with them and after a year, six cubs survived.
The study did not determine if the others lost their cubs before,
during, or some time after their long swims. Researchers do not know
whether or not this is a new behaviour; before polar ice shrinkage,
they opined that there was probably neither the need nor opportunity
to swim such long distances.
The polar bear may swim underwater for up to three minutes to approach
seals on shore or on ice floes.
Skins of hunted polar bears
Polar bears have long provided important raw materials for Arctic
peoples, including the Inuit, Yupik, Chukchi, Nenets, Russian Pomors
and others. Hunters commonly used teams of dogs to distract the bear,
allowing the hunter to spear the bear or shoot it with arrows at
closer range. Almost all parts of captured animals had a
use. The fur was used in particular to make trousers and, by the
Nenets, to make galoshes-like outer footwear called tobok; the meat is
edible, despite some risk of trichinosis; the fat was used in food and
as a fuel for lighting homes, alongside seal and whale blubber; sinews
were used as thread for sewing clothes; the gallbladder and sometimes
heart were dried and powdered for medicinal purposes; the large canine
teeth were highly valued as talismans. Only the liver was not
used, as its high concentration of vitamin A is poisonous.
Hunters make sure to either toss the liver into the sea or bury it in
order to spare their dogs from potential poisoning. Traditional
subsistence hunting was on a small enough scale to not significantly
affect polar bear populations, mostly because of the sparseness of the
human population in polar bear habitat.
History of commercial harvest
In Russia, polar bear furs were already being commercially traded in
the 14th century, though it was of low value compared to
Arctic fox or
even reindeer fur. The growth of the human population in the
Arctic in the 16th and 17th century, together with the advent
of firearms and increasing trade, dramatically increased the harvest
of polar bears. However, since polar bear fur has always
played a marginal commercial role, data on the historical harvest is
fragmentary. It is known, for example, that already in the winter of
Spitsbergen harvested 150 polar bears in
Magdalenefjorden. In the early 20th century, Norwegian hunters
were harvesting 300 bears per year at the same location. Estimates of
total historical harvest suggest that from the beginning of the 18th
century, roughly 400 to 500 animals were being harvested annually in
northern Eurasia, reaching a peak of 1,300 to 1,500 animals in the
early 20th century, and falling off as the numbers began
In the first half of the 20th century, mechanized and overpoweringly
efficient methods of hunting and trapping came into use in North
America as well. Polar bears were chased from snowmobiles,
icebreakers, and airplanes, the latter practice described in a 1965
New York Times editorial as being "about as sporting as machine
gunning a cow." Norwegians used "self-killing guns", comprising a
loaded rifle in a baited box that was placed at the level of a bear's
head, and which fired when the string attached to the bait was
pulled. The numbers taken grew rapidly in the 1960s, peaking
around 1968 with a global total of 1,250 bears that year.
Road sign warning about the presence of polar bears
Concerns over the future survival of the species led to the
development of national regulations on polar bear hunting, beginning
in the mid-1950s. The
Soviet Union banned all hunting in 1956. Canada
began imposing hunting quotas in 1968.
Norway passed a series of
increasingly strict regulations from 1965 to 1973, and has completely
banned hunting since then. The
United States began regulating hunting
in 1971 and adopted the Marine
Mammal Protection Act in 1972. In 1973,
International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears was
signed by all five nations whose territory is inhabited by polar
bears: Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Soviet Union, and the United
States. Member countries agreed to place restrictions on recreational
and commercial hunting, ban hunting from aircraft and icebreakers, and
conduct further research. The treaty allows hunting "by local
people using traditional methods".
Norway is the only country of the
five in which all harvest of polar bears is banned. The agreement was
a rare case of international cooperation during the Cold War.
Biologist Ian Stirling commented, "For many years, the conservation of
polar bears was the only subject in the entire
Arctic that nations
from both sides of the Iron Curtain could agree upon sufficiently to
sign an agreement. Such was the intensity of human fascination with
this magnificent predator, the only marine bear."
Agreements have been made between countries to co-manage their shared
polar bear subpopulations. After several years of negotiations, Russia
United States signed an agreement in October 2000 to jointly
set quotas for indigenous subsistence hunting in
Chukotka. The treaty was ratified in October 2007. In
September 2015, the polar bear range states agreed upon a "circumpolar
action plan" describing their conservation strategy for polar
United States government has proposed that polar bears be
transferred to Appendix I of CITES, which would ban all international
trade in polar bear parts, polar bears currently remain listed under
Appendix II. This decision was approved of by members of the IUCN
and TRAFFIC, who determined that such an uplisting was unlikely to
confer a conservation benefit.
Dogsleds are used for recreational hunting of polar bears in Canada.
Polar bears were designated "Not at Risk" in April 1986 and uplisted
Special Concern" in April 1991. This status was re-evaluated and
confirmed in April 1999, November 2002, and April 2008. Polar bears
continue to be listed as a species of special concern in Canada
because of their sensitivity to overharvest and because of an expected
range contraction caused by loss of
Arctic sea ice.
More than 600 bears are killed per year by humans across Canada, a
rate calculated by scientists to be unsustainable for some areas,
notably Baffin Bay.
Canada has allowed sport hunters accompanied
by local guides and dog-sled teams since 1970, but the practice
was not common until the 1980s. The guiding of sport hunters
provides meaningful employment and an important source of income for
northern communities in which economic opportunities are few.
Sport hunting can bring CDN$20,000 to $35,000 per bear into northern
communities, which until recently has been mostly from American
The territory of
Nunavut accounts for the location 80% of annual kills
in Canada. In 2005, the government of
Nunavut increased the quota from
400 to 518 bears, despite protests from the
IUCN Polar Bear
Specialist Group. In two areas where harvest levels have been
increased based on increased sightings, science-based studies have
indicated declining populations, and a third area is considered
data-deficient. While most of that quota is hunted by the
Inuit people, a growing share is sold to recreational
hunters. (0.8% in the 1970s, 7.1% in the 1980s, and 14.6% in the
Nunavut polar bear biologist, Mitchell Taylor, who was
formerly responsible for polar bear conservation in the territory, has
insisted that bear numbers are being sustained under current hunting
limits. In 2010, the 2005 increase was partially reversed.
Nunavut officials announced that the polar bear quota
Baffin Bay region would be gradually reduced from 105 per year
to 65 by the year 2013. The Government of the Northwest
Territories maintain their own quota of 72 to 103 bears within the
Inuvialuit communities of which some are set aside for sports
hunters. Environment
Canada also banned the export
Canada of fur, claws, skulls and other products from polar bears
Baffin Bay as of 1 January 2010.
Because of the way polar bear hunting quotas are managed in Canada,
attempts to discourage sport hunting would actually increase the
number of bears killed in the short term.
Canada allocates a
certain number of permits each year to sport and subsistence hunting,
and those that are not used for sport hunting are re-allocated to
indigenous subsistence hunting. Whereas northern communities kill all
the polar bears they are permitted to take each year, only half of
sport hunters with permits actually manage to kill a polar bear. If a
sport hunter does not kill a polar bear before his or her permit
expires, the permit cannot be transferred to another hunter.
In August 2011, Environment
Canada published a national polar bear
In Greenland, hunting restrictions were first introduced in 1994 and
expanded by executive order in 2005. Until 2005
no limit on hunting by indigenous people. However, in 2006 it imposed
a limit of 150, while also allowed recreational hunting for the first
time. Other provisions included year-round protection of cubs and
mothers, restrictions on weapons used and various administrative
requirements to catalogue kills.
Polar bear were hunted heavily in Svalbard,
Norway throughout the 19th
century and to as recently as 1973, when the conservation treaty was
signed. 900 bears a year were harvested in the 1920s and after World
War II, there were as many as 400–500 harvested annually. Some
regulations of hunting did exist. In 1927, poisoning was outlawed
while in 1939, certain denning sights were declared off limits. The
killing of females and cubs was made illegal in 1965. Killing of polar
bears decreased somewhat 25–30 years before the treaty. Despite
this, the polar bear population continued to decline and by 1973, only
around 1000 bears were left in Svalbard. Only with the passage of the
treaty did they begin to recover.
Soviet Union banned the harvest of polar bears in 1956; however,
poaching continued and is estimated to pose a serious threat to the
polar bear population. In recent years, polar bears have
approached coastal villages in Chukotka more frequently due to the
shrinking of the sea ice, endangering humans and raising concerns that
illegal hunting would become even more prevalent. In 2007, the
Russian government made subsistence hunting legal for indigenous
Chukotkan peoples only, a move supported by Russia's most prominent
bear researchers and the
World Wide Fund for Nature
World Wide Fund for Nature as a means to curb
Polar bears are currently listed as "Rare", of "Uncertain Status", or
"Rehabilitated and rehabilitating" in the Red Data Book of Russia,
depending on population. In 2010, the Ministry of Natural
Resources and Environment published a strategy for polar bear
conservation in Russia.
Mammal Protection Act of 1972 afforded polar bears some
protection in the United States. It banned hunting (except by
indigenous subsistence hunters), banned importing of polar bear parts
(except polar bear pelts taken legally in Canada), and banned the
harassment of polar bears. On 15 May 2008, the United States
Department of the Interior listed the polar bear as a threatened
species under the Endangered Species Act, citing the melting of Arctic
sea ice as the primary threat to the polar bear. It banned all
importing of polar bear trophies. Importing products made from polar
bears had been prohibited from 1972 to 1994 under the Marine Mammal
Protection Act, and restricted between 1994 and 2008. Under those
restrictions, permits from the
Fish and Wildlife Service
were required to import sport-hunted polar bear trophies taken in
hunting expeditions in Canada. The permit process required that the
bear be taken from an area with quotas based on sound management
principles. Since 1994, hundreds of sport-hunted polar bear
trophies have been imported into the U.S. In 2015, the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service published a draft conservation management plan
for polar bears to improve their status under the Endangered Species
Act and the Marine
Mammal Protection Act.
Conservation status, threats and controversies
Map from the
U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Geological Survey shows projected changes in polar
bear habitat from 2001 to 2010 and 2041 to 2050. Red areas indicate
loss of optimal polar bear habitat; blue areas indicate gain.
Polar bear population sizes and trends are difficult to estimate
accurately because they occupy remote home ranges and exist at low
Polar bear fieldwork can also be hazardous to
researchers. As of 2015, the International Union for Conservation
of Nature (IUCN) reports that the global population of polar bears is
22,000 to 31,000, and the current population trend is unknown.
Nevertheless, polar bears are listed as "Vulnerable" under criterion
A3c, which indicates an expected population decrease of ≥30% over
the next three generations (~34.5 years) due to "decline in area of
occupancy, extent of occurrence and/or quality of habitat". Risks
to the polar bear include climate change, pollution in the form of
toxic contaminants, conflicts with shipping, oil and gas exploration
and development, and human-bear interactions including harvesting and
possible stresses from recreational polar-bear watching.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the polar bear is important as
an indicator of
Arctic ecosystem health. Polar bears are studied to
gain understanding of what is happening throughout the Arctic, because
at-risk polar bears are often a sign of something wrong with the
Arctic marine ecosystem.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature,
United States Geological Survey and many leading
polar bear biologists have expressed grave concerns about the impact
of climate change, including the belief that the current warming trend
imperils the survival of the polar bear.
The key danger posed by climate change is malnutrition or starvation
due to habitat loss. Polar bears hunt seals from a platform of sea
ice. Rising temperatures cause the sea ice to melt earlier in the
year, driving the bears to shore before they have built sufficient fat
reserves to survive the period of scarce food in the late summer and
early fall. Reduction in sea-ice cover also forces bears to swim
longer distances, which further depletes their energy stores and
occasionally leads to drowning. Thinner sea ice tends to deform
more easily, which appears to make it more difficult for polar bears
to access seals. Insufficient nourishment leads to lower
reproductive rates in adult females and lower survival rates in cubs
and juvenile bears, in addition to poorer body condition in bears of
Mothers and cubs have high nutritional requirements, which are not met
if the seal-hunting season is too short
In addition to creating nutritional stress, a warming climate is
expected to affect various other aspects of polar bear life: Changes
in sea ice affect the ability of pregnant females to build suitable
maternity dens. As the distance increases between the pack ice and
the coast, females must swim longer distances to reach favored denning
areas on land. Thawing of permafrost would affect the bears who
traditionally den underground, and warm winters could result in den
roofs collapsing or having reduced insulative value. For the polar
bears that currently den on multi-year ice, increased ice mobility may
result in longer distances for mothers and young cubs to walk when
they return to seal-hunting areas in the spring. Disease-causing
bacteria and parasites would flourish more readily in a warmer
Problematic interactions between polar bears and humans, such as
foraging by bears in garbage dumps, have historically been more
prevalent in years when ice-floe breakup occurred early and local
polar bears were relatively thin. Increased human-bear
interactions, including fatal attacks on humans, are likely to
increase as the sea ice shrinks and hungry bears try to find food on
Polar bear on Svalbard, starving due to the ice around the islands
melting earlier than before
The effects of climate change are most profound in the southern part
of the polar bear's range, and this is indeed where significant
degradation of local populations has been observed. The Western
Hudson Bay subpopulation, in a southern part of the range, also
happens to be one of the best-studied polar bear subpopulations. This
subpopulation feeds heavily on ringed seals in late spring, when newly
weaned and easily hunted seal pups are abundant. The late spring
hunting season ends for polar bears when the ice begins to melt and
break up, and they fast or eat little during the summer until the sea
Due to warming air temperatures, ice-floe breakup in western Hudson
Bay is currently occurring three weeks earlier than it did 30 years
ago, reducing the duration of the polar bear feeding season. The
body condition of polar bears has declined during this period; the
average weight of lone (and likely pregnant) female polar bears was
approximately 290 kg (640 lb) in 1980 and 230 kg
(510 lb) in 2004. Between 1987 and 2004, the Western Hudson
Bay population declined by 22%, although the population is
currently listed as "stable". As the climate change melts sea ice,
U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Geological Survey projects that two-thirds of polar bears
will disappear by 2050.
In Alaska, the effects of sea ice shrinkage have contributed to higher
mortality rates in polar bear cubs, and have led to changes in the
denning locations of pregnant females. In recent years,
polar bears in the
Arctic have undertaken longer than usual swims to
find prey, possibly resulting in four recorded drownings in the
unusually large ice pack regression of 2005.
A new development is that polar bears have begun ranging to new
territory. While not unheard of but still uncommon, polar bears have
been sighted increasingly in larger numbers ashore, staying on the
mainland for longer periods of time during the summer months,
particularly in North Canada, traveling farther inland. This may
cause an increased reliance on terrestrial diets, such as goose eggs,
waterfowl and caribou, as well as increased human–bear
Polar bears accumulate high levels of persistent organic pollutants
such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) and chlorinated pesticides.
Due to their position at the top of the ecological pyramid, with a
diet heavy in blubber in which halocarbons concentrate, their bodies
are among the most contaminated of
Arctic mammals. Halocarbons
are known to be toxic to other animals, because they mimic hormone
chemistry, and biomarkers such as immunoglobulin G and retinol suggest
similar effects on polar bears. PCBs have received the most study, and
they have been associated with birth defects and immune system
Many chemicals, such as PCBs and DDT, have been internationally banned
due to the recognition of their harm on the environment. Their
concentrations in polar bear tissues continued to rise for decades
after being banned as these chemicals spread through the food chain.
Since then, the trend seems to have discontinued, with tissue
concentrations of PCBs declining between studies performed from 1989
to 1993 and studies performed from 1996 to 2002. During the same
DDT was notably lower in the Western Hudson Bay
Oil and gas development
Oil and gas development in polar bear habitat can affect the bears in
a variety of ways. An oil spill in the
Arctic would most likely
concentrate in the areas where polar bears and their prey are also
concentrated, such as sea ice leads. Because polar bears rely
partly on their fur for insulation and soiling of the fur by oil
reduces its insulative value, oil spills put bears at risk of dying
from hypothermia. Polar bears exposed to oil spill conditions
have been observed to lick the oil from their fur, leading to fatal
kidney failure. Maternity dens, used by pregnant females and by
females with infants, can also be disturbed by nearby oil exploration
and development. Disturbance of these sensitive sites may trigger the
mother to abandon her den prematurely, or abandon her litter
Steven Amstrup and other
U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Geological Survey scientists have
predicted two-thirds of the world's polar bears may disappear by 2050,
based on moderate projections for the shrinking of summer sea ice
caused by climate change, though the validity of this study
has been debated. The bears could disappear from Europe,
Asia, and Alaska, and be depleted from the Canadian
and areas off the northern
Greenland coast. By 2080, they could
Greenland entirely and from the northern Canadian
coast, leaving only dwindling numbers in the interior Arctic
Archipelago. However, in the short term, some polar bear
populations in historically colder regions of the
temporarily benefit from a milder climate, as multiyear ice that is
too thick for seals to create breathing holes is replaced by thinner
Polar bears diverged from brown bears 400,000–600,000 years ago and
have survived past periods of climate fluctuation. It has been claimed
that polar bears will be able to adapt to terrestrial food sources as
the sea ice they use to hunt seals disappears. However, most
polar bear biologists think that polar bears will be unable to
completely offset the loss of calorie-rich seal blubber with
terrestrial foods, and that they will be outcompeted by brown bears in
this terrestrial niche, ultimately leading to a population
Controversy over species protection
Warnings about the future of the polar bear are often contrasted with
the fact that worldwide population estimates have increased over the
past 50 years and are relatively stable today. Some
estimates of the global population are around 5,000 to 10,000 in the
early 1970s; other estimates were 20,000 to 40,000 during the
1980s. Current estimates put the global population at between
20,000 and 25,000 or 22,000 and 31,000.
There are several reasons for the apparent discordance between past
and projected population trends: estimates from the 1950s and 1960s
were based on stories from explorers and hunters rather than on
scientific surveys. Second, controls of harvesting were
introduced that allowed this previously overhunted species to
recover. Third, the recent effects of climate change have
affected sea ice abundance in different areas to varying degrees.
Debate over the listing of the polar bear under endangered species
legislation has put conservation groups and Canada's
Inuit at opposing
Nunavut government and many northern residents have
condemned the U.S. initiative to list the polar bear under the
Endangered Species Act. Many
Inuit believe the polar bear
population is increasing, and restrictions on commercial sport-hunting
are likely to lead to a loss of income to their communities.
Engraving, made by Chukchi carvers in the 1940s on a walrus tusk,
depicts polar bears hunting walrus
For the indigenous peoples of the Arctic, polar bears have long played
an important cultural and material role.
Polar bear remains
have been found at hunting sites dating to 2,500 to 3,000 years
ago and 1,500-year-old cave paintings of polar bears have been
found in the Chukchi Peninsula. Indeed, it has been suggested
Arctic peoples' skills in seal hunting and igloo construction has
been in part acquired from the polar bears themselves.
Alaska Natives have many folk tales featuring the bears
including legends in which bears are humans when inside their own
houses and put on bear hides when going outside, and stories of how
the constellation that is said to resemble a great bear surrounded by
dogs came into being. These legends reveal a deep respect for the
polar bear, which is portrayed as both spiritually powerful and
closely akin to humans. The human-like posture of bears when
standing and sitting, and the resemblance of a skinned bear carcass to
the human body, have probably contributed to the belief that the
spirits of humans and bears were interchangeable.
Among the Chukchi and Yupik of eastern Siberia, there was a
longstanding shamanistic ritual of "thanksgiving" to the hunted polar
bear. After killing the animal, its head and skin were removed and
cleaned and brought into the home, and a feast was held in the hunting
camp in its honor. To appease the spirit of the bear, traditional song
and drum music was played, and the skull was ceremonially fed and
offered a pipe. Only once the spirit was appeased was the skull
be separated from the skin, taken beyond the bounds of the homestead,
and placed in the ground, facing north.
The Nenets of north-central
Siberia placed particular value on the
talismanic power of the prominent canine teeth. These were traded in
the villages of the lower Yenisei and Khatanga rivers to the
forest-dwelling peoples further south, who would sew them into their
hats as protection against brown bears. It was believed that the
"little nephew" (the brown bear) would not dare to attack a man
wearing the tooth of its powerful "big uncle", the polar bear.
The skulls of killed polar bears were buried at sacred sites, and
altars, called sedyangi, were constructed out of the skulls. Several
such sites have been preserved on the Yamal Peninsula.
Symbols and mascots
Greenland's 1911 five kroner note depicting a polar bear
Coat of arms of the
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug in the Russian
Coat of arms of the Greenlandic Self-Rule government (Kalaallit
Their distinctive appearance and their association with the Arctic
have made polar bears popular icons, especially in those areas where
they are native. The Canadian two-dollar coin carries an image of a
lone polar bear on its reverse side, while a special millennium
edition featured three. Vehicle license plates in the Northwest
Canada are in the shape of a polar
bear. The polar bear is the mascot of Bowdoin
College, Maine, the University of
Alaska Fairbanks, and the 1988
Winter Olympics held in Calgary. The Eisbären Berlin
hockey team uses a roaring polar bear as their logo.
Companies such as Coca-Cola, Polar Beverages, Nelvana, Bundaberg
Rum, and Good Humor-Breyers have used images of the polar bear in
advertising, while
Fox's Glacier Mints have featured
a polar bear named Peppy as the brand mascot since 1922.
Polar bears are popular in fiction, particularly in books for children
or teenagers. For example, The Polar
Bear Son is adapted from a
Inuit tale. The animated television series Noah's
Island features a polar bear named Noah as the protagonist. Polar
bears feature prominently in East (also released as North Child) by
Edith Pattou, The
Raymond Briggs (adapted into an
animated short in 1998), and Chris d'Lacey's The Fire Within
series. The panserbjørne of Philip Pullman's fantasy trilogy His
Dark Materials are sapient, dignified polar bears who exhibit
anthropomorphic qualities, and feature prominently in the 2007 film
adaptation of The Golden Compass. The television series Lost
features polar bears living on the tropical island setting.
Polar Bears International
^ a b c d e f g h i j Wiig, Ø.; Amstrup, S.; Atwood, T.; Laidre, K.;
Lunn, N.; Obbard, M.; Regehr, E. & Thiemann, G. (2015). "Ursus
IUCN Red List
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2015:
Retrieved 13 December 2017.
^ Phipps, John (1774). A voyage towards the
North Pole undertaken by
His Majesty's command, 1773. London: W. Bowyer and J. Nicols, for J.
Nourse. p. 185.
^ "Polar bear, (Ursus maritimus)" (PDF).
Wildlife service. Retrieved 9 September 2009. Appearance. The polar
bear is the largest member of the bear family, with the exception of
Alaska's Kodiak brown bears, which equal polar bears in size.
^ Kindersley, Dorling (2001). Animal. New York City: DK Publishing.
^ Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder,
Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference
(3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 589.
ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
^ Gunderson, Aren (2007). "Ursus Maritimus".
Animal Diversity Web.
University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Archived from the original
on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 27 October 2007.
^ Stirling, Ian; Guravich, Dan (1998). Polar Bears. University of
Michigan Press. p. 191. ISBN 978-0-472-08108-0.
^ a b c d
Bear Specialist Group, 2014.Summary of polar bear
population status. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
^ "Why is polar bear hunting allowed?" Archived 8 July 2015 at the
Wayback Machine.. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
^ "Definition of 'white bear'". Collins English Dictionary. Glasgow,
HarperCollins Publishers LLC. Archived from the original on
15 October 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
^ Kidd, D.A. (1973). Collins
Latin Gem Dictionary. London: Collins.
^ "Education: Marine
Mammal Information: Polar Bears". The Marine
Mammal Center. February 2006. Archived from the original on 4 June
Inuit name for the polar bear is nanook.
Arctic Sounder[dead link]
^ Hall, Sam (1988) The fourth world: the heritage of the
its destruction, Vintage Books, ISBN 0394559428, pp. 29, 232.
^ "Этимологический Словарь: ДИКИЕ
ЗВЕРИ" [Etymological Dictionary: Wild Animals]. Science Research
Center of Linguopsychology (NICOMANT). ОШКУЙ. Archived from the
original on 4 May 2008. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
^ ."Grand Quebec". Grand Quebec. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
^ This combines the
Ancient Greek words thalassa/θαλασσα 'sea',
and arctos/αρκτος 'bear' and also, with reference to Ursa Major,
'northern' or 'of the north pole' Liddell, Henry George & Robert
A Greek-English Lexicon (Abridged Edition). United
Kingdom: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-910207-4.
^ Nakagome, Shigeki; et al. (2008). "Unequal Rates of Y Chromosome
Gene Divergence during Speciation of the Family Ursidae". Molecular
Biology and Evolution. 25 (7): 1344–1356. doi:10.1093/molbev/msn086.
^ Wayne, R. K.; Van Valkenburgh, B.; O'Brien, S. J. (1991). "Molecular
distance and divergence time in carnivores and primates". Molecular
Biology and Evolution. 8 (3): 297–319. PMID 2072860.
^ a b Lindqvist, C.; Schuster, S. C.; Sun, Y.; Talbot, S. L.; Qi, J.;
Ratan, A.; Tomsho, L. P.; Kasson, L.; Zeyl, E.; Aars, J.; Miller, W.;
Ingolfsson, O.; Bachmann, L.; Wiig, O. (2010). "Complete mitochondrial
genome of a
Pleistocene jawbone unveils the origin of polar bear".
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107 (11): 5053–7.
PMC 2841953 . PMID 20194737.
^ a b Kurtén, B (1964). "The evolution of the polar bear, Ursus
maritimus Phipps". Acta Zoologica Fennica. 108: 1–30.
^ a b c DeMaster, Douglas P.; Stirling, Ian (8 May 1981). "Ursus
Maritimus". Mammalian Species. 145 (145): 1–7. doi:10.2307/3503828.
JSTOR 3503828. OCLC 46381503.
^ Waits, L. P.; Talbot, S. L.; Ward, R. H.; Shields, G. F. (2008).
Mitochondrial DNA Phylogeography of the North American Brown
Implications for Conservation". Conservation Biology. 12 (2):
^ Marris, E. (15 March 2007). "Linnaeus at 300: The species and the
specious". Nature. 446 (7133): 250–253. doi:10.1038/446250a.
PMID 17361153. (Subscription required (help)).
^ Edwards, C. J.; Suchard, M. A.; Lemey, P.; Welch, J. J.; Barnes, I.;
Fulton, T. L.; Barnett, R.; O'Connell, T. C.; Coxon, P.; Monaghan, N.;
Valdiosera, C. E.; Lorenzen, E. D.; Willerslev, E.; Baryshnikov, G.
F.; Rambaut, A.; Thomas, M. G.; Bradley, D. G.; Shapiro, B. (2011).
"Ancient Hybridization and an Irish Origin for the Modern Polar Bear
Matriline". Current Biology. 21 (15): 1251–8.
doi:10.1016/j.cub.2011.05.058. PMID 21737280.
^ Hailer, F.; Kutschera, V. E.; Hallstrom, B. M.; Klassert, D.; Fain,
S. R.; Leonard, J. A.; Arnason, U.; Janke, A. (2012). "Nuclear Genomic
Sequences Reveal that Polar Bears Are an Old and Distinct Bear
Lineage". Science. 336 (6079): 344–7. Bibcode:2012Sci...336..344H.
^ Liu, Shiping; Lorenzen, Eline D.; Fumagalli, Matteo; Li, Bo; Harris,
Kelley; Xiong, Zijun; Zhou, Long; Korneliussen, Thorfinn Sand; Somel,
Mehmet; Babbitt, Courtney; Wray, Greg; Li, Jianwen; He, Weiming; Wang,
Zhuo; Fu, Wenjing; Xiang, Xueyan; Morgan, Claire C.; Doherty, Aoife;
O'Connell, Mary J.; McInerney, James O.; Born, Erik W.; Dalén, Love;
Dietz, Rune; Orlando, Ludovic; Sonne, Christian; Zhang, Guojie;
Nielsen, Rasmus; Willerslev, Eske; Wang, Jun (2014). "Population
Genomics Reveal Recent Speciation and Rapid Evolutionary Adaptation in
Polar Bears". Cell. 157 (4): 785–794.
doi:10.1016/j.cell.2014.03.054. PMC 4089990 .
^ a b Gorman J (23 July 2012). "Brown bears and polar bears split up,
but continued coupling". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 July
^ a b Schliebe, Scott; Evans, Thomas; Johnson, Kurt; Roy, Michael;
Miller, Susanne; Hamilton, Charles; Meehan, Rosa; Jahrsdoerfer, Sonja
(21 December 2006). Range-wide status review of the polar bear (Ursus
maritimus) (PDF). Anchorage, Alaska:
Fish and Wildlife
Service. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
^ a b c d e f g h Stirling, Ian (1988). "The First Polar Bears". Polar
Bears. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
^ Rice, Dale W. (1998). Marine Mammals of the World: Systematics and
Special Publications of the Society for Marine Mammals.
4. Lawrence, Kansas: The Society for Marine Mammalogy.
^ Committee on Taxonomy (October 2014). "List of Marine
& Subspecies". The Society for Marine Mammalogy. Archived from the
original on 6 January 2015.
^ Wilson, Don E. (1976). "Cranial variation in polar bears" (PDF).
Bears: Their Biology and Management. 3: 447–453.
doi:10.2307/3872793. JSTOR 3872793.
^ a b Paetkau, D.; Amstrup, S. C.; Born, E. W.; Calvert, W.; Derocher,
A. E.; Garner, G. W.; Messier, F.; Stirling, I.; et al. (1999).
"Genetic structure of the world's polar bear populations" (PDF).
Molecular Ecology. 8 (10): 1571–1584.
doi:10.1046/j.1365-294x.1999.00733.x. PMID 10583821. Retrieved 17
November 2007 – via ResearchGate.
^ Ingólfsson, Ólafur; Wiig, Øystein (2009). "Late Pleistocene
fossil find in Svalbard: the oldest remains of a polar bear (Ursus
maritimus Phipps, 1744) ever discovered". Polar Research. 28 (3).
^ a b c d e f g h Derocher, Andrew E.; Lunn, Nicholas J.; Stirling,
Ian (2004). "Polar bears in a Warming Climate". Integrative and
Comparative Biology. 44 (2): 163–176. doi:10.1093/icb/44.2.163.
^ a b c Polar Bears and Conservation, archived from the original on
2010-02-10, retrieved 2015-12-29
Polar bear FAQ". Polar Bears International. Archived from the
original on 19 June 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2009.
^ a b c d e Aars, pp. 33–55.
^ Supplementary material for Ursus maritimus Red List
assessment[permanent dead link]
^ a b c d e f g h Campbell, Colin; Lunau, Kate (25 January 2008). "The
war over the polar bear: Who's telling the truth about the fate of a
Canadian icon?". Maclean's. Archived from the original on 3 May 2008.
Retrieved 30 December 2016.
^ Aars, pp. 61–62
^ Stirling, Ian (1988). "Introduction". Polar Bears. Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-10100-5.
^ Bernd G. Würsig; J. G. M. Thewissen (2002). Encyclopedia of Marine
Mammals. Gulf Professional Publishing. p. 70.
^ a b c d Stirling, Ian (1988). "Distribution and Abundance". Polar
Bears. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
^ Stirling, Ian (January 1997). "The importance of polynyas, ice
edges, and leads to marine mammals and birds". Journal of Marine
Systems. 10 (1–4): 9–21. doi:10.1016/S0924-7963(96)00054-1.
^ Purcell, Adam. "Carnivora". Basic Biology. Archived from the
original on 22 April 2016.
^ Matthews, p. 15
^ "Polar bear, (Ursus maritimus)" (PDF).
Wildlife service. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 June 2008.
Retrieved 22 March 2008. Appearance. The polar bear is the largest
member of the bear family, with the exception of Alaska's Kodiak brown
bears, a brown bear subspecies, which equal polar bears in size.
^ a b Hemstock, p. 4
^ a b c d Wood, G.L. (1983). The Guinness Book of
p. 240. ISBN 978-0-85112-235-9.
^ Derocher, A. E.; Wiig, Ø. (2002). "Postnatal growth in body length
and mass of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) at Svalbard". Journal of
Zoology. 256 (3): 343–349. doi:10.1017/S0952836902000377.
^ Ferguson, S. H.; Taylor, M. K.; Born, E. W.; Rosing-Asvid, A.;
Messier, F. (1999). "Determinants of Home Range Size for Polar Bears
(Ursus maritimus)". Ecology Letters. 2 (5): 311–318.
^ Perrin, William F.; Bernd Würsig; J. G. M. Thewissen (2008).
Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Academic
Press. p. 1009. ISBN 978-0-12-373553-9.
Polar bear Ursus maritimus – Appearance/Morphology: Measurement
and Weight (Literature Reports). Wildlife1.wildlifeinformation.org.
Retrieved 15 September 2011.
Bear Ursus maritimus – APPEARANCE/ MORPHOLOGY: TAIL".
Wildpro. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
^ a b c Lockwood, pp. 10–16
^ Engeli, Emmanuel. "Fractures of the radius and ulna secondary to
possible vitamin 'D' deficiency in captive polar bears (Ursus
maritimus)". polarbearsinternational.org. Archived from the original
on 26 February 2010.
^ a b c d e Stirling, Ian (1988). Polar Bears. Ann Arbor: University
of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-10100-5.
^ Liu, S; Lorenzen, ED; Fumagalli, M; et al. (8 May 2014). "Population
genomics reveal recent speciation and rapid evolutionary adaptation in
polar bears". Cell. 157 (4): 785–794.
doi:10.1016/j.cell.2014.03.054. PMC 4089990 .
^ Uspenskii, S. M. (1977). The Polar Bear. Moscow: Nauka.
^ Kolenosky G. B. 1987. Polar bear. pp. 475–485 in Wild furbearer
management and conservation in North America (M. Novak, J. A. Baker,
M. E. Obbard, and B. Malloch, eds.). Ontario Fur Trappers Association,
North Bay, Ontario, Canada.
Arctic Wildlife". Churchill Polar Bears. 2011. Retrieved 27
^ Koon, Daniel W. (1998). "Is polar bear hair fiber optic?". Applied
Optics. 37 (15): 3198–3200. doi:10.1364/AO.37.003198.
^ In unusually warm conditions, the hollow tubes provide an excellent
home for algae. While the algae is harmless to the bears, it is often
a worry to the zoos housing them, and affected animals are sometimes
washed in a salt solution, or mild peroxide bleach to make the fur
^ Derocher, Andrew E.; Magnus Andersen; Øystein Wiig (2005). "Sexual
dimorphism of polar bears" (PDF). Journal of Mammalogy. 86 (5):
JSTOR 4094434. Archived from the original (PDF) on
^ a b Rosing, pp. 20–23
^ Pagano, A. Am (2012). "Long-distance swimming by polar bears (Ursus
maritimus) of the southern Beaufort
Sea during years of extensive open
water". Canadian Journal of Zoology. 90: 663–676.
^ Durner, George M.; et al. (2011). "Consequences of long-distance
swimming and travel over deep-water pack ice for a female polar bear
during a year of extreme sea ice retreat". Polar Biology. 34:
^ a b c d e f g h Stirling, Ian (1988). "behavior". Polar Bears. Ann
Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-10100-5.
^ Polar Bears: VI. Behavior., SeaWorld. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
^ a b Matthews, pp. 27–29
^ Conflicts and Encounters. Polar Bears International. 2015.
Bear Attacks Surprisingly Rare. Kieran Mulvaney, Discovery
News. August 5, 2011.
^ a b c d Bruemmer, pp. 25–33
^ a b Stirling, Ian (1988). "Distribution and Abundance". Polar Bears.
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
^ Hoshino, M. Hoshino's Alaska. Chronicle Books (2007),
^ Matthews, p. 95
^ a b Naughton, D. (2014). The Natural History of Canadian Mammals:
Opossums and Carnivores. University of Toronto Press.
pp. 251–252. ISBN 978-1-4426-4483-0.
^ Derocher, A. E.; Van Parijs, S. M.; Wiig, Ø. (2010). "Nursing
vocalization of a polar bear cub". Ursus. 21 (2): 189–191.
^ Owen, M. A.; Swaisgood, R. R.; Slocomb, C.; Amstrup, S. C.; Durner,
G. M.; Simac, K.; Pessier, A. P. (2014). "An experimental
investigation of chemical communication in the polar bear". Journal of
Zoology. 295 (1): 36–43. doi:10.1111/jzo.12181.
^ a b c Rosing, pp. 128–132
^ Why Didn't the Wild Polar
Bear eat the Husky? The National Institute
^ a b c d Matthews, pp. 73–88
Arctic Bears". PBS Nature. 17 February 2008. Archived from the
original on 16 June 2008.
^ a b Dyck, M. G.; Romberg, S. (2007). "Observations of a wild polar
bear (Ursus maritimus) successfully fishing
Arctic charr (Salvelinus
Fourhorn sculpin (Myoxocephalus quadricornis)". Polar
Biology. 30 (12): 1625–1628. doi:10.1007/s00300-007-0338-3.
^ a b c d e f Amstrup, Steven C.; Marcot, Bruce G.; Douglas, David C.
(2007). Forecasting the range-wide status of polar bears at selected
times in the 21st Century (PDF). Reston, Virginia: U.S. Geological
Survey. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 October 2007. Retrieved
29 September 2007.
^ a b Hemstock, pp. 24–27
^ Best, R. C. (1984). "Digestibility of ringed seals by the polar
bear". Can. J. Zool. 63: 1033–1036. doi:10.1139/z85-155.
^ "In pictures: Rock climbing polar bears". BBC News. 20 April
^ Rosing-Asvid, A. (2006). "The influence of climate variability on
polar bear (Ursus maritimus) and ringed seal (
Pusa hispida) population
dynamics". Canadian Journal of Zoology. 84 (3): 357–364.
^ a b c d e f g h Derocher AE, Wiig Ø, Andersen M (June 2002). "Diet
composition of polar bears in
Svalbard and the western Barents Sea".
Polar Biology. 25 (6): 448–452 – via ResearchGate.
^ Thiemann, G. W.; Budge, S. M.; Iverson, S. J.; Stirling, I. (2007).
"Unusual fatty acid biomarkers reveal age- and sex-specific foraging
in polar bears (Ursus maritimus)". Canadian Journal of Zoology. 85
(4): 505–517. doi:10.1139/z07-028.
^ Thiemann, G. W.; Iverson, S. J.; Stirling, I.; Obbard, M. E. (2011).
"Individual patterns of prey selection and dietary specialization in
Arctic marine carnivore". Oikos. 120 (10): 1469–1478.
^ a b Calvert, Wendy; Stirling, Ian (1990). "Bears: Their Biology and
Management". Interactions between polar bears and overwintering
walruses in the Central Canadian High Arctic. A Selection of Papers
from the Eighth International Conference on
Bear Research and
Management, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, February 1989. 8.
pp. 351–356. doi:10.2307/3872939. JSTOR 3872939.
^ a b c d e Clarkson, Peter L.; Stirling, Ian (1994). "Polar Bears"
(PDF). In Hygnstrom, Scott E.; Timm, Robert M.; Larson, Gary E.
Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage. Lincoln: University of
Nebraska. pp. C–25 to C–34. Retrieved 13 November 2007.
^ Macdonald, D.W.; Barrett, P. (1993). Mammals of Europe. New Jersey:
Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09160-9.
^ Heyland, J.D.; Hay, Keith (1976). "An Attack by a Polar
Bear on a
Juvenile Beluga". Arctic. 29 (1): 56–57.
^ a b c d Stirling, Ian (1988). "What Makes a Polar
Bear Tick?". Polar
Bears. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
^ Cesare, Chris (16 July 2015). "
Polar bear metabolism cannot cope
with ice loss". nature.com. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
^ a b Manning, T. H. (March 1961). "Comments on 'Carnivorous walrus
Arctic zoonoses'" (PDF). Arctic. 14 (1): 76–77.
doi:10.14430/arctic3663. Retrieved 13 November 2007.
^ Lunn, N. J.; Stirling, Ian (1985). "The significance of supplemental
food to polar bears during the ice-free period of Hudson Bay".
Canadian Journal of Zoology. 63 (10): 2291–2297.
^ Eliasson, Kelsey (May 2004). "
Hudson Bay Post — Goodbye
Churchil [sic] Dump". Archived from the original on 9 May 2008.
Retrieved 9 June 2008.
^ a b c d e f Russell, Richard H. (1975). "The Food Habits of Polar
James Bay and Southwest
Hudson Bay in Summer and Autumn".
Arctic. 28 (2): 117–129. doi:10.14430/arctic2823.
^ Gormezano, Linda J.; Rockwell, Robert F. (2013). "What to eat now?
Shifts in polar bear diet during the ice-free season in western Hudson
Bay". Ecology and Evolution. 3 (10): 3509–3523.
doi:10.1002/ece3.740. PMC 3797495 . PMID 24223286.
^ Derocher, A. E.; Wiig, Øystein; Bangjord, G. (2000). "Predation of
Svalbard reindeer by polar bears". Polar Biology. 23 (10): 675–678.
^ a b Brook, R. K.; Richardson, E. S. (2002). "Observations of Polar
Bear Predatory Behaviour toward Caribou". Arctic. 55 (2): 193–196.
^ Ovsyanikov, N.G. (1996). "Interactions of polar bears with other
large mammals, including man". Journal of Wildlife Research. 1:
^ Ramsay, M. A.; Hobson, K. A. (May 1991). "Polar bears make little
use of terrestrial food webs: evidence from stable-carbon isotope
analysis". Oecologia. 86 (4): 598–600. doi:10.1007/BF00318328.
^ Best, R. C. (1985). "Digestibility of ringed seals by the polar
bear". Canadian Journal of Zoology. 63 (5): 1033–1036.
^ Derocher, Andrew E., Arctic; Andriashek, Dennis; Stirling, Ian
(1993). "Terrestrial Foraging by Polar Bears During the Ice-Free
Period in Western Hudson Bay". ARCTIC. 46 (3): 251–254.
CiteSeerX 10.1.1.555.1960 . doi:10.14430/arctic1350.
^ Aars, Jon; Andersen, Magnus; Brenière, Agnès; Blanc, Samuel (1
June 2015). "White-beaked dolphins trapped in the ice and eaten by
polar bears". Polar Research. 34. doi:10.3402/polar.v34.26612.
Retrieved 12 June 2015.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Stirling, Ian (1988). "Reproduction".
Polar Bears. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
^ Carpenter, Tom (November–December 2005). "Who's Your Daddy?".
Canadian Geographic. Ottawa: The Royal Canadian Geographic Society:
^ a b Rosing, pp. 42–48
^ Lockwood, pp.17–21
^ Bruce, D. S.; Darling, N. K.; Seeland, K. J.; Oeltgen, P. R.;
Nilekani, S. P.; Amstrup, S. C. (1990). "Is the polar bear (Ursus
maritimus) a hibernator?: Continued studies on opioids and
hibernation". Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 35 (3):
^ "Rejected by their mother, polar cubs now under intensive care at
Toronto Zoo". 13 October 2011. Archived from the original on 15
^ Kazlowski, Steven; Stirling, Ian (2010). Ice Bear: The
of Polar Bears. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers Books. p. 12.
^ Malenfant, René M.; Coltman, David W.; Richardson, Evan S.; Lunn,
Nicholas J.; Stirling, Ian; Adamowicz, Elizabeth; Davis, Corey S. (26
December 2015). "Evidence of adoption, monozygotic twinning, and low
inbreeding rates in a large genetic pedigree of polar bears". Polar
Biology. 39 (8): 1455–1465. bioRxiv 034009 .
^ Derocher, AE; Wiig, Ø. (1999). "Infanticide and Cannibalism of
Juvenile Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) in Svalbard" (PDF). Arctic. 52
(3): 307–310. doi:10.14430/arctic936.
^ a b Regehr, Eric V.; Amstrup, Steven C.; Stirling, Ian (2006).
Written at Anchorage, Alaska.
Polar bear population status in the
Sea (PDF). Reston, Virginia: U.S. Geological Survey.
File Report 2006-1337. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
^ a b Stirling, Ian; Lunn, N. J.; Iacozza, J. (September 1999).
"Long-term trends in the population ecology of polar bears in Western
Hudson Bay in relation to climatic change" (PDF). Arctic. 52 (3):
294–306. doi:10.14430/arctic935. Retrieved 11 November 2007.
^ Maternal success appeared to decline after this point, possibly
because of an age-related impairment in the ability to store the fat
necessary to rear cubs. Derocher, A.E.; Stirling, I. (1994).
"Age-specific reproductive performance of female polar bears (Ursus
maritimus)". Journal of Zoology. 234 (4): 527–536.
^ a b c d e "Polar bears in depth: Survival". Polar Bears
International. p. 3. Archived from the original on 8 December
^ Larsen, Thor; Kjos-Hanssen, Bjørn (1983). "
Trichinella sp. in polar
bears from Svalbard, in relation to hide length and age". Polar
Research. 1 (1): 89–96.
^ Hemstock, pp. 29–35
^ Wrigley, Robert E. (Spring 2008). "The Oldest Living Polar Bear"
Polar Bears International
Polar Bears International Newsletter. Polar Bears
International. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 June 2008.
Retrieved 9 June 2008.
^ Climate impacts on polar bears
^ O'Harra, Dough (24 April 2005) Polar bears, grizzlies increasingly
gather on North Slope. Anchorage Daily News.
^ "ABC News: Grizzlies encroaching on polar bear Country". ABC News.
Retrieved 10 October 2009.
^ Richardson, E.S.; Andriashek, D. (2006). "Wolf (
Predation of a Polar
Bear (Ursus maritimus) Cub on the
Sea Ice off
Northwestern Banks Island, Northwest Territories, Canada". Arctic. 59
(3): 322–324. doi:10.14430/arctic318.
^ Peacock, E., Derocher, A. E., Thiemann, G. W., & Stirling, I.
(2011). Conservation and management of Canada’s polar bears (Ursus
maritimus) in a changing
Arctic 1 1 This review is part of the virtual
symposium “Flagship Species–Flagship Problems” that deals with
ecology, biodiversity and management issues, and climate impacts on
species at risk and of Canadian importance, including the polar bear
(Ursus maritimus), Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), Piping Plover
(Charadrius melodus), and caribou (Rangifer tarandus). Canadian
Journal of Zoology, 89(5), 371-385.
^ Ferguson, S. H., Higdon, J. W., & Westdal, K. H. (2012). Prey
items and predation behavior of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in
Canada based on
Inuit hunter interviews. Aquatic biosystems,
^ Howden, Daniel (12 August 2008). "Clash of the fiercest predators as
shark eats polar bear". The Independent. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
^ Eagle, Dane. "
Greenland shark". Florida Museum of Natural History.
Retrieved 26 June 2012.
^ Allardyce, Mark (2000).
Wolverine – A Look Into the Devils Eyes.
pp. 20, 165. ISBN 978-1-905361-00-7.
^ Rosen, Yereth (1 May 2012). "Polar bears can swim vast distances,
study finds". Reuters. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
^ Stirling, Ian; van Meurs, Rinie (2015). "Longest recorded underwater
dive by a polar bear". Polar Biology: 1–4.
doi:10.1007/s00300-015-1684-1. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
^ Hogenboom, Melissa (May 2015). "Polar
Bear Breaks Diving Record".
BBC News. Retrieved 2015-07-23.
^ a b c d Stirling, Ian (1988). "The Original Polar
Polar Bears. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
^ a b Lockwood, pp. 6–9
^ a b c d e f g h i j k Uspensky, Savva Mikhailovich (1977).
Белый Медведь (tr: Belyi Medved') — (in Russian).
^ As a carnivore, which feeds largely upon fish-eating carnivores, the
polar bear ingests large amounts of vitamin A that is stored in their
livers. The resulting high concentrations cause Hypervitaminosis A,
Rodahl, K.; Moore, T. (1943). "The vitamin A content and toxicity of
bear and seal liver". The Biochemical Journal. 37 (2): 166–168.
doi:10.1042/bj0370166. PMC 1257872 . PMID 16747610.
^ a b Lockwood, pp. 31–36
Bear Management". Government of the Northwest Territories.
Archived from the original on 4 May 2008. Retrieved 14 March
^ a b Bruemmer, pp. 93–111
^ Polar Bears: A Complete Guide to Their Biology and Behavior
^ Proceedings of the 2nd Working Meeting of Polar
Polar Bears. Morges, Switzerland: IUCN. February 1970. Archived from
the original on 4 May 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2007.
^ International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, 15
November 1973, Oslo
^ Stirling, Ian Foreword in Rosing, Norbert (1996). The World of the
Polar Bear. Willowdale, ON: Firefly Books Ltd.
^ "U.S. and
Russia sign pact to protect the polar bear". The New York
Times. 17 October 2000. Retrieved 12 April 2008.
Bear Treaty Ratified". ScienceDaily. 18 October
2007. Retrieved 12 April 2008.
^ Circumpolar Action Plan: Conservation Strategy for Polar Bears
^ Did Polar Bears Really Lose at CITES?
^ PBSG statement on proposed transfer of polar bear to
^ COSEWIC Assessment - Polar Bear
^ Freeman, M.M.R.; Wenzel, G.W. (March 2006). "The nature and
significance of polar bear conservation hunting in the Canadian
Arctic". Arctic. 59 (1): 21–30. doi:10.14430/arctic360.
^ a b Wenzel, George W. (September 2004). "
Polar bear as a resource:
An overview" (PDF). Yellowknife: 3rd NRF Open Meeting. Retrieved 3
^ a b "
Nunavut hunters can kill more polar bears this year". CBC News.
10 January 2005.
^ "Rethink polar bear hunt quotas, scientists tell
CBC News. 4 July 2005. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
^ a b c d e Stirling, Ian; Derocher, Andrew E. (2007). "Melting under
pressure: The real scoop on climate warming and polar bears" (PDF).
The Wildlife Professional (published Fall 2007). 1 (3): 24–27, 43.
Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 17
^ Taylor, Mitchell K. (6 April 2006). "Review of CBD Petition" (PDF).
Letter to the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 21 February 2007. Retrieved 8 September 2007.
^ a b George, Jane (April 2010). "
Nunavut hunters still enraged over
bear quotas". Iqaluit. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
^ National Polar
Bear Conservation Strategy for
Canada Archived 1
January 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Rose, Naomi A. (16 February 2006) Hitting Polar Bears When They Are
Down. The Humane Society of the United States.
^ Aars, J.; Andersen, M.; Kovac, K. M. (January 2005). "Polar Bears in
Svalbard" (PDF). Norwegian Polar Institute. Retrieved 31 December
^ a b Myers, Steven Lee (16 April 2007). "
Russia tries to save polar
bears with legal hunt". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 April
^ Red Data Book of Russia: Marine Mammals: Carnivores
^ Strategy for Polar
Bear Conservation in the Russian Federation
^ a b US
Fish and Wildlife Service. "Environmental Conservation Online
System". Archived from the original on 17 February 2015.
Bear Facts: Harvesting/Hunting". Polar Bears International.
Archived from the original on 27 March 2008. Retrieved 14 March
^ "Support the Polar
Bear Protection Act". The Humane Society of the
^ Malcolm Alexander Ramsay (1949 – 2000)
^ WWF: A Leader in Polar
Bear Conservation. Retrieved: 1 August 2015.
^ a b c Stirling, Ian; Parkinson, Claire L. (September 2006).
"Possible effects of climate warming on selected populations of polar
bears (Ursus maritimus) in the Canadian Arctic" (PDF). Arctic. 59 (3):
261–275. doi:10.14430/arctic312. ISSN 0004-0843. Retrieved 15
^ Stirling, Ian; Lunn, N.J.; Iacozza, John; Elliott, Campbell; Obbard,
Martyn (March 2004). "
Polar bear distribution and abundance on the
Hudson Bay coast during open water season, in relation to
population trends and annual ice patterns" (PDF). Arctic. 57 (1):
15–26. doi:10.14430/arctic479. Archived from the original (PDF) on
25 September 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
^ Barber, D.G.; J. Iacozza (March 2004). "Historical analysis of sea
ice conditions in M'Clintock Channel and the Gulf of Boothia, Nunavut:
implications for ringed seal and polar bear habitat". Arctic. 57 (1):
^ Appenzeller, T. and Dimick, D. R. (2004) "The Heat is On," National
Geographic 206: 2–75. cited in Flannery, Tim (2005). The Weather
Makers. Toronto, Ontario: HarperCollins. pp. 101–103.
^ a b
Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (2004). Impact of a Warming
Arctic Impact Climate Assessment: Key Finding 4. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-61778-2.
OCLC 56942125. .
^ a b Monnett, Charles; Gleason, Jeffrey S. (July 2006). "Observations
of mortality associated with extended open-water swimming by polar
bears in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea". Polar Biology. 29 (8): 681–687.
^ Booker, Christopher (27 June 2009). "
Polar bear expert barred by
global warmists". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 August
^ Regehr, E. V.; Lunn, N. J.; Amstrup, N. C.; Stirling, I. (2007).
"Effects of earlier sea ice breakup on survival and population size of
polar bears in western Hudson Bay". Journal of Wildlife Management. 71
(8): 2673–2683. doi:10.2193/2006-180.
^ a b "Global Warming and Polar Bears - National Wildlife Federation".
^ The proportion of maternity dens on sea ice has changed from 62%
between the years 1985 through 1994, to 37% over the years 1998
through 2004. Thus now the Alaskan population more resembles the world
population in that it is more likely to den on land. Fischbach, A. S.;
Amstrup, S. C.; Douglas, D. C. (2007). "Landward and eastward shift of
Alaskan polar bear denning associated with recent sea ice changes".
Polar Biology. 30 (11): 1395–1405.
^ Harvey, Chelsea. "Next Up from Climate Change: More Polar Bears on
Land, Potentially Running into Humans" The Washington Post. Retrieved
December 9, 2015
^ Marris, Emma. (2014) As Seas Ice Shrinks, Can Polar Bears Survive on
Land?" National Geographic. Retrieved December 9, 2015
^ "Next Up from Climate Change: More Polar Bears on Land, Potentially
Running into Humans" The Washington Post. Retrieved December 9, 2015
^ "Polar Bears at the Top of POPs". The Science and the Environment
Bulletin. Environment Canada. May–June 2000. Retrieved 20 October
^ Skaare, J. U.; Larsen, H. J. R.; Lie, E.; Bernhoft, A.; Derocher, A.
E.; Norstrom, R.; Ropstad, E.; Lunn, N. F.; Wiig, Ø. (2002).
"Ecological risk assessment of persistent organic pollutants in the
arctic" (PDF). Toxicology. 181–182: 193–7.
doi:10.1016/S0300-483X(02)00280-9. PMID 12505309. Archived from
the original on 3 March 2010. CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
^ a b Verreault, J.; Muir, D. C. G.; Norstrom, R. J.; Stirling, I.;
Fisk, A. T.; Gabrielsen, G. W.; Derocher, A. E.; Evans, T. J.; Dietz,
R.; Sonne, C.; Sandala, G. M.; Gebbink, W.; Riget, F. F.; Born, E. W.;
Taylor, M. K.; Nagy, J.; Letcher, R. J. (2005). "Chlorinated
hydrocarbon contaminants and metabolites in polar bears (Ursus
maritimus) from Alaska, Canada, East Greenland, and Svalbard:
1996−2002" (PDF). Science of the Total Environment. 351–352:
369–90. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2004.10.031. PMID 16115663.
Archived from the original on 3 March 2010. CS1 maint: Unfit url
^ Armstrong, J. Scott; Green, Kesten C.; Soon, Willie (2008). "Polar
Bear Population Forecasts: A Public Policy Forecasting Audit".
Interfaces. 38 (5): 382–405. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.372.4617 .
^ Amstrup, Steven C.; Caswell, Hal; DeWeaver, Eric; Stirling, Ian;
Douglas, David C.; Marcot, Bruce G.; Hunter, Christine M. (2009).
"Rebuttal of "Polar
Bear Population Forecasts: A Public-Policy
Forecasting Audit"". Interfaces. 39 (4): 353–369.
^ Amstrup, Steven C. (2011). "Polar Bears and climate change:
Certainties, uncertainties, and hope in a warming world". In R. T.
Watson; T. J. Cade; M. Fuller; G. Hunt; E. Potapov. Gyrfalcons and
Ptarmigan in a Changing World. I. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho,
USA. pp. 11–20. doi:10.4080/gpcw.2011.0100.
^ Gormezano, Linda J.; Rockwell, Robert F.; Dias, João Miguel (10
June 2015). "The Energetic Value of Land-Based Foods in Western Hudson
Bay and Their Potential to Alleviate Energy Deficits of Starving Adult
Male Polar Bears". PLOS ONE. 10 (6): e0128520.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128520. PMC 4489586 .
^ Rode, Karyn D.; Robbins, Charles T.; Nelson, Lynne; Amstrup, Steven
C. (April 2015). "Can polar bears use terrestrial foods to offset lost
ice-based hunting opportunities?". Frontiers in Ecology and the
Environment. 13 (3): 138–145. doi:10.1890/140202.
^ "Marine Mammals Management: Polar Bear". U.S.
Fish and Wildlife
Service, Alaska. Retrieved 9 June 2008.
^ "WWF —
Polar bear status, distribution & population".
World Wildlife Foundation. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
^ Krauss, Clifford (27 May 2006). "
Bear hunting caught in global
warming debate". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 March 2008.
^ a b c Derocher, Andrew. "Ask the experts: Are polar bear populations
increasing?". Polar Bears International. Archived from the original on
29 February 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
^ Bruemmer, p. 101. In a meeting of the five circumpolar nations on 6
September 1965, estimates of the worldwide population ranged from
5,000 to 19,000. "The truth was, no one knew... Scientific research
had been sketchy and knowledge of the polar bear was based largely on
stories brought back by explorers and hunters."
Nunavut MLAs condemn U.S. proposal to make polar bears threatened
species". CBC News. 4 June 2007. Archived from the original on 13
October 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
Inuit reject U.S. polar bear proposal". CBC News. 21 June 2007.
Archived from the original on 8 July 2007. Retrieved 15 September
^ Northern Research Forum.
Polar bear as a resource. A position paper
presented for the 3rd NRF Open Meeting in Yellowknife and Rae Edzo,
Canada. 15–18 September 2004
^ Kochnev AA, Etylin VM, Kavry VI, Siv-Siv EB, Tanko IV (17–19
December 2002). "Ritual Rites and Customs of the Natives of Chukotka
connected with the Polar Bear". Preliminary report submitted for the
meeting of the
Alaska Nanuuq Commission (Nome, Alaska, USA):
^ "Order Authorizing the Issue of a Two Dollar Circulation Coin
Commemorating the Millenium and Specifying its Characteristics,
SOR/2000-245". CanLII. 2011-11-19. Archived from the original on 6
June 2009. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
^ "Journey Staff". "Our
Coca-Cola Polar bears". Coca-Cola. Retrieved
31 January 2017.
^ "The Fox's Glacier Family". Fox's Confectionary. Archived from the
original on September 15, 2007. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
^ Dabcovich, Lydia (1997). The polar bear son: An
Inuit tale. New
York: Clarion Books. ISBN 0-395-72766-9.
^ East (2003), A novel by Edith Pattou, Fantastic Fiction
^ The Bear, Toonhound
^ The Fire Within, Chris d'Lacey's official website
^ "The Golden Compass: The
Bear Facts". CG Society. Retrieved
^ Abrams, Natalie (31 January 2010). "13 Questions with the Producers
of Lost: Polar Bears, the Smoke Monster, and the Man in Black". TV
Guide. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
Aars, Jon, ed. (June 2005). 14th Working Meeting of the IUCN/SSC Polar
Bear Specialist Group (PDF). 32. Nicholas J. Lunn and Andrew E.
Derocher. Seattle, Washington, United States: IUCN.
ISBN 2-8317-0959-8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 April
2008. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
Bruemmer, Fred (1989). World of the Polar Bear. Toronto, Ontario,
Canada: Key Porter Books. ISBN 1-55013-107-9.
Hemstock, Annie (1999). The Polar Bear. Manakato, MN: Capstone Press.
Lockwood, Sophie (2006). Polar Bears. Chanhassen, MN: The Child's
World. ISBN 1-59296-501-6.
Matthews, Downs (1993). Polar Bear. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle
Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-0204-8.
Rosing, Norbert (1996). The World of the Polar Bear. Willowdale, ON:
Firefly Books Ltd. ISBN 1-55209-068-X.
Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an
Arctic Icon by Michael Engelhard,
2016, University of Washington Press
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Polar bears.
Wikispecies has information related to Ursus maritimus
National Wildlife Federation's Polar
ARKive — images and movies of the polar bear (Ursus maritimus)
Map of polar bear ranges and denning areas in
Nunavut from Nunavut
Polar bear news, and video clips from BBC programmes past
Photos, facts, videos from
Polar Bears International
Polar Bears International that funds
population, preservation, and
DNA studies of the polar bear
Map: Here's where the polar bears are vanishing
African palm civet
African palm civet (N. binotata)
Marsh mongoose (A. paludinosus)
Bushy-tailed mongoose (B. crassicauda)
Jackson's mongoose (B. jacksoni)
Black-footed mongoose (B. nigripes)
Alexander's kusimanse (C. alexandri)
Angolan kusimanse (C. ansorgei)
Common kusimanse (C. obscurus)
Flat-headed kusimanse (C. platycephalus)
Yellow mongoose (C. penicillata)
Pousargues's mongoose (D. dybowskii)
Angolan slender mongoose
Angolan slender mongoose (G. flavescens)
Black mongoose (G. nigrata)
Somalian slender mongoose
Somalian slender mongoose (G. ochracea)
Cape gray mongoose
Cape gray mongoose (G. pulverulenta)
Slender mongoose (G. sanguinea)
Ethiopian dwarf mongoose
Ethiopian dwarf mongoose (H. hirtula)
Common dwarf mongoose
Common dwarf mongoose (H. parvula)
Short-tailed mongoose (H. brachyurus)
Indian gray mongoose
Indian gray mongoose (H. edwardsii)
Indian brown mongoose
Indian brown mongoose (H. fuscus)
Egyptian mongoose (H. ichneumon)
Small Asian mongoose
Small Asian mongoose (H. javanicus)
Long-nosed mongoose (H. naso)
Collared mongoose (H. semitorquatus)
Ruddy mongoose (H. smithii)
Crab-eating mongoose (H. urva)
Stripe-necked mongoose (H. vitticollis)
White-tailed mongoose (I. albicauda)
Liberian mongoose (L. kuhni)
Gambian mongoose (M. gambianus)
Banded mongoose (M. mungo)
Selous' mongoose (P. selousi)
Meller's mongoose (R. melleri)
Meerkat (S. suricatta)
Spotted hyena (C. crocuta)
Brown hyena (H. brunnea)
Striped hyena (H. hyaena)
Aardwolf (P. cristatus)
Large family listed below
Large family listed below
Small family listed below
Cheetah (A. jubatus)
Caracal (C. caracal)
African golden cat
African golden cat (C. aurata)
Bay cat (C. badia)
Asian golden cat
Asian golden cat (C. temminckii)
European wildcat (F. silvestris)
African wildcat (F. lybica)
Jungle cat (F. chaus)
Black-footed cat (F. nigripes)
Sand cat (F. margarita)
Chinese mountain cat
Chinese mountain cat (F. bieti)
Domestic cat (F. catus)
Ocelot (L. pardalis)
Margay (L. wiedii)
Pampas cat (L. colocola)
Geoffroy's cat (L. geoffroyi)
Kodkod (L. guigna)
Andean mountain cat
Andean mountain cat (L. jacobita)
Oncilla (L. tigrinus)
Southern tigrina (L. guttulus)
Serval (L. serval)
Canadian lynx (L. canadensis)
Eurasian lynx (L. lynx)
Iberian lynx (L. pardinus)
Bobcat (L. rufus)
Pallas's cat (O. manul)
Marbled cat (P. marmorata)
Fishing cat (P. viverrinus)
Leopard cat (P. bengalensis)
Sundaland leopard cat (P. javanensis)
Flat-headed cat (P. planiceps)
Rusty-spotted cat (P. rubiginosus)
Cougar (P. concolor)
Jaguarundi (H. yagouaroundi)
Lion (P. leo)
Jaguar (P. onca)
Leopard (P. pardus)
Tiger (P. tigris)
Snow leopard (P. uncia)
Clouded leopard (N. nebulosa)
Sunda clouded leopard
Sunda clouded leopard (N. diardi)
Viverridae (includes Civets)
Binturong (A. binturong)
Small-toothed palm civet
Small-toothed palm civet (A. trivirgata)
Sulawesi palm civet
Sulawesi palm civet (M. musschenbroekii)
Masked palm civet
Masked palm civet (P. larvata)
Golden wet-zone palm civet (P. aureus)
Asian palm civet
Asian palm civet (P. hermaphroditus)
Jerdon's palm civet (P. jerdoni)
Golden palm civet
Golden palm civet (P. zeylonensis)
Owston's palm civet
Owston's palm civet (C. owstoni)
Otter civet (C. bennettii)
Hose's palm civet
Hose's palm civet (D. hosei)
Banded palm civet
Banded palm civet (H. derbyanus)
Banded linsang (P. linsang)
Spotted linsang (P. pardicolor)
African civet (C. civetta)
Abyssinian genet (G. abyssinica)
Angolan genet (G. angolensis)
Bourlon's genet (G. bourloni)
Crested servaline genet
Crested servaline genet (G. cristata)
Common genet (G. genetta)
Johnston's genet (G. johnstoni)
Rusty-spotted genet (G. maculata)
Pardine genet (G. pardina)
Aquatic genet (G. piscivora)
King genet (G. poensis)
Servaline genet (G. servalina)
Haussa genet (G. thierryi)
Cape genet (G. tigrina)
Giant forest genet
Giant forest genet (G. victoriae)
African linsang (P. richardsonii)
Leighton's linsang (P. leightoni)
Malabar large-spotted civet
Malabar large-spotted civet (V. civettina)
Large-spotted civet (V. megaspila)
Malayan civet (V. tangalunga)
Large Indian civet
Large Indian civet (V. zibetha)
Small Indian civet
Small Indian civet (V. indica)
Fossa (C. ferox)
Eastern falanouc (E. goudotii)
Western falanouc (E. major)
Malagasy civet (F. fossana)
Ring-tailed mongoose (G. elegans)
Broad-striped Malagasy mongoose
Broad-striped Malagasy mongoose (G. fasciata)
Grandidier's mongoose (G. grandidieri)
Narrow-striped mongoose (M. decemlineata)
Brown-tailed mongoose (S. concolor)
Durrell's vontsira (S. durrelli)
Caniformia (cont. below)
Giant panda (A. melanoleuca)
Sun bear (H. malayanus)
Sloth bear (M. ursinus)
Spectacled bear (T. ornatus)
American black bear
American black bear (U. americanus)
Brown bear (U. arctos)
Polar bear (U. maritimus)
Asian black bear
Asian black bear (U. thibetanus)
Molina's hog-nosed skunk
Molina's hog-nosed skunk (C. chinga)
Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk
Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk (C. humboldtii)
American hog-nosed skunk
American hog-nosed skunk (C. leuconotus)
Striped hog-nosed skunk
Striped hog-nosed skunk (C. semistriatus)
Hooded skunk (M. macroura)
Striped skunk (M. mephitis)
Sunda stink badger
Sunda stink badger (M. javanensis)
Palawan stink badger
Palawan stink badger (M. marchei)
Southern spotted skunk
Southern spotted skunk (S. angustifrons)
Western spotted skunk
Western spotted skunk (S. gracilis)
Eastern spotted skunk
Eastern spotted skunk (S. putorius)
Pygmy spotted skunk
Pygmy spotted skunk (S. pygmaea)
Eastern lowland olingo
Eastern lowland olingo (B. alleni)
Northern olingo (B. gabbii)
Western lowland olingo
Western lowland olingo (B. medius)
Olinguito (B. neblina)
Ring-tailed cat (B. astutus)
Cacomistle (B. sumichrasti)
White-nosed coati (N. narica)
South American coati
South American coati (N. nasua)
Western mountain coati (N. olivacea)
Eastern mountain coati (N. meridensis)
Kinkajou (P. flavus)
Crab-eating raccoon (P. cancrivorus)
Raccoon (P. lotor)
Cozumel raccoon (P. pygmaeus)
Red panda (A. fulgens)
Caniformia (cont. above)
(includes fur seals
and sea lions)
South American fur seal
South American fur seal (A. australis)
Australasian fur seal (A. forsteri)
Galápagos fur seal
Galápagos fur seal (A. galapagoensis)
Antarctic fur seal
Antarctic fur seal (A. gazella)
Juan Fernández fur seal
Juan Fernández fur seal (A. philippii)
Brown fur seal
Brown fur seal (A. pusillus)
Guadalupe fur seal
Guadalupe fur seal (A. townsendi)
Subantarctic fur seal
Subantarctic fur seal (A. tropicalis)
Northern fur seal
Northern fur seal (C. ursinus)
Steller sea lion
Steller sea lion (E. jubatus)
Australian sea lion
Australian sea lion (N. cinerea)
South American sea lion
South American sea lion (O. flavescens)
New Zealand sea lion
New Zealand sea lion (P. hookeri)
California sea lion
California sea lion (Z. californianus)
Galápagos sea lion
Galápagos sea lion (Z. wollebaeki)
Walrus (O. rosmarus)
Hooded seal (C. cristata)
Bearded seal (E. barbatus)
Gray seal (H. grypus)
Ribbon seal (H. fasciata)
Leopard seal (H. leptonyx)
Weddell seal (L. weddellii)
Crabeater seal (L. carcinophagus)
Northern elephant seal
Northern elephant seal (M. angustirostris)
Southern elephant seal
Southern elephant seal (M. leonina)
Mediterranean monk seal
Mediterranean monk seal (M. monachus)
Hawaiian monk seal
Hawaiian monk seal (M. schauinslandi)
Ross seal (O. rossi)
Harp seal (P. groenlandicus)
Spotted seal (P. largha)
Harbor seal (P. vitulina)
Caspian seal (P. caspica)
Ringed seal (P. hispida)
Baikal seal (P. sibirica)
Large family listed below
Large family listed below
Canidae (includes dogs)
Short-eared dog (A. microtis)
Side-striped jackal (C. adustus)
African golden wolf
African golden wolf (C. anthus)
Golden jackal (C. aureus)
Coyote (C. latrans)
Gray wolf (C. lupus)
Black-backed jackal (C. mesomelas)
Red wolf (C. rufus)
Ethiopian wolf (C. simensis)
Crab-eating fox (C. thous)
Maned wolf (C. brachyurus)
Dhole (C. alpinus)
Culpeo (L. culpaeus)
Darwin's fox (L. fulvipes)
South American gray fox
South American gray fox (L. griseus)
Pampas fox (L. gymnocercus)
Sechuran fox (L. sechurae)
Hoary fox (L. vetulus)
African wild dog
African wild dog (L. pictus)
Raccoon dog (N. procyonoides)
Bat-eared fox (O. megalotis)
Bush dog (S. venaticus)
Gray fox (U. cinereoargenteus)
Island fox (U. littoralis)
Bengal fox (V. bengalensis)
Blanford's fox (V. cana)
Cape fox (V. chama)
Corsac fox (V. corsac)
Tibetan sand fox
Tibetan sand fox (V. ferrilata)
Arctic fox (V. lagopus)
Kit fox (V. macrotis)
Pale fox (V. pallida)
Rüppell's fox (V. rueppelli)
Swift fox (V. velox)
Red fox (V. vulpes)
Fennec fox (V. zerda)
African clawless otter
African clawless otter (A. capensis)
Oriental small-clawed otter
Oriental small-clawed otter (A. cinerea)
Sea otter (E. lutris)
Spotted-necked otter (H. maculicollis)
North American river otter
North American river otter (L. canadensis)
Marine otter (L. felina)
Neotropical otter (L. longicaudis)
Southern river otter
Southern river otter (L. provocax)
Eurasian otter (L. lutra)
Hairy-nosed otter (L. sumatrana)
Smooth-coated otter (L. perspicillata)
Giant otter (P. brasiliensis)
Hog badger (A. collaris)
Tayra (E. barbara)
Lesser grison (G. cuja)
Greater grison (G. vittata)
Wolverine (G. gulo)
Saharan striped polecat
Saharan striped polecat (I. libyca)
Striped polecat (I. striatus)
Patagonian weasel (L. patagonicus)
American marten (M. americana)
Yellow-throated marten (M. flavigula)
Beech marten (M. foina)
Nilgiri marten (M. gwatkinsii)
European pine marten
European pine marten (M. martes)
Japanese marten (M. melampus)
Sable (M. zibellina)
Fisher (P. pennanti)
Japanese badger (M. anakuma)
Asian badger (M. leucurus)
European badger (M. meles)
Honey badger (M. capensis)
Bornean ferret-badger (M. everetti)
Chinese ferret-badger (M. moschata)
Javan ferret-badger (M. orientalis)
Burmese ferret-badger (M. personata)
(Weasels and Ferrets)
Amazon weasel (M. africana)
Mountain weasel (M. altaica)
Stoat (M. erminea)
Steppe polecat (M. eversmannii)
Colombian weasel (M. felipei)
Long-tailed weasel (M. frenata)
Japanese weasel (M. itatsi)
Yellow-bellied weasel (M. kathiah)
European mink (M. lutreola)
Indonesian mountain weasel
Indonesian mountain weasel (M. lutreolina)
Black-footed ferret (M. nigripes)
Least weasel (M. nivalis)
Malayan weasel (M. nudipes)
European polecat (M. putorius)
Siberian weasel (M. sibirica)
Back-striped weasel (M. strigidorsa)
Egyptian weasel (M. subpalmata)
American mink (N. vison)
African striped weasel
African striped weasel (P. albinucha)
American badger (T. taxus)
Marbled polecat (V. peregusna)
Fauna Europaea: 305357