Threats to Polar Bears

Today is International Polar Bear day. According to Wikipedia, this day is celebrated to raise awareness for the conservation status of the Polar Bear. This means that most of the attention on this day goes to the threat of climate change to Polar Bears. Now, I won’t say this isn’t a threat and it looks like it’s going to be an even bigger threat in the future, it’s not the only threat Polar Bears face.

Polar Bear on a beach

Another major problem, maybe at the moment as big as climate change, is hunting. Hunting? Aren’t Polar Bears protected since the 1970s? Well, yes, but there are still around 1000 bears shot, annually and most of them legally. On a world population that numbers most likely somewhere between 20.000 and 25.000 that means that 4 – 5% of the population is shot each year. Even though population estimates are difficult to get and population trends even more difficult, for none of the 19 subpopulations of Polar Bears a growth rate of 5% is estimated, meaning this hunting, despite all so-called protection, is far from sustainable.

Polar Bear mother and cub

As I wrote at the start of this blog, climate change is also a real threat to Polar Bears and must definitely also be addressed. But this is a very difficult problem to tackle and will take time. But this hunting should be much easier to solve, the different regulations should just get more strict. If you want to read more on this topic, please read this excellent book written by Morten Jørgenssen or wait for the brand new book by Ole Jørgen Liodden on this topic.


Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

One comment

  • Thanks for these photos, and the information, Arjen. I knew of course that they are threatened, especially from climate change, but hunting is unfathomable to me, so little do I know. Heading to your MJ link now….many thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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