Critical spring feeding for polar bears is over – sea ice levels are now irrelevant

polarbearscience

Polar bears in virtually all regions will now have finished their intensive spring feeding, which means sea ice levels are no longer an issue. A few additional seals won’t make much difference to a bear’s condition at this point.

Relative importance of seasons polar bear graphic_PolarBearScience_June2016

The only seals available on the ice for polar bears to hunt in early July are predator-savvy adults and subadults but since the condition of the sea ice makes escape so much easier for the seals, most bears that continue to hunt are unsuccessful – and that’s been true since the 1970s. So much for the public hand-wringing over the loss of summer sea ice on behalf of polar bear survival!

The fact is, most ringed seals (the primary prey species of polar bears worldwide) move into open water to feed after they have completed their annual molt, which occurs by late June to mid-July for adults and subadults; newborn pups…

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