Polar Bears

Polar bears are marine mammals, and spend much of their time on Arctic sea ice. Many adaptations make polar bears uniquely suited to life in icy habitats.

Hunting & Diet

Polar bears feed mainly on ringed and bearded seals. Depending upon their location, they also eat harp and hooded seals and scavenge on carcasses of beluga whales, walruses, narwhals, and bowhead whales. On occasion, polar bears kill beluga whales and young walruses.

Range & Habitat

Polar bears are only found in the Arctic. The most important habitats for polar bears are the edges of pack ice where currents and wind interact, forming a continually melting and refreezing matrix of ice patches and leads. These are the areas of where polar bears can find the greatest number of seals.

Threats and Dangers

Climate change forces polar bears to spend longer time onshore. Unfortunately, these interactions can end badly for both humans and bears.

Off shore petroleum installations and operations are expected to increase in number. This would likely hurt their habitat in many ways.

There are a few places where unsustainable hunting appears to be happening, including unreported and illegal hunting.


Because of ongoing and potential loss of their sea ice habitat resulting from climate change, polar bears were listed as a threatened species in the US under the Endangered Species Act in May 2008.