Polar Bear facts
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Amazing Facts about Polar Bears
Polar Bears that visit the St. Anthony area are part of the Davis Strait population which is approximatly 2000 bears
This is a stable population however there is some evedience that due to the effects of Global warming and the negative effects of pollution, bears in
other locations are threatened by the shortage of food.
Above is a large Polar Bear near St. Anthony March 29th, 2008
Photo courtesy local RCMP
The object next to the footprint is a pair of sunglasses
Polar Bears are one of the most powerful and aggresive predators on earth.
They have been known to kill walrus and whales.
Polar Bears evolved from brown bears between 70,000 - 100, 000 years ago during the advance of glaciers.
Average weight of fully grown males is 500 kilograms (1200 pounds). Females are usually half the size of males
The largest Polar bear ever weighted was over 1000 kilograms ( 2200 pounds ) and over 12 feet long. About the size of a small car.
They are usually fully grown at 5 years.
Their ears and tails are stubby, less surface area results in less heat loss. They have up to 4 inches of fat on their bodies for insulation.
Their skin is black as well as their nose and tongue. This helps with absorbing heat from the sun.
Females usually have cubs once every three years .
The most common litter size is twins, then singles and the odd triplet.
Female polar bears reach sexual maturity at about 4 years. Male polar bears reach sexual maturity at about 6 years.
Mating occurs on the ice flows in April and May.
Competition for females is intense. Females breed about once every three years; therefore, there are about three
adult males to every breeding female.
Females are induced ovulators, which means the act of mating causes a female to release an egg for fertilization.
Females need to gain at least 200 kg (441 lb.) for a successful pregnancy.
Male Polar bears occassionally kill the cubs so that the mother is not occupied protecting the cub and then mate with the females.
The total gestation period is about eight months.
The fertilized egg divides into a hollow ball of cells one layer thick (a blastocyst),then stops growing and lies free-floating in the
uterus for about four months. The blastula then implants in the uterine wall and continues to develop. Delayed implantation assures
that the cub is born during the best time of the year for survival and allows the female to get into good physical condition and use her
energy for nursing her newborn cubs.
Polar bear cubs are born November through January in a den. Mother and cubs emerge from their den in late March or April.
Polar Bear Den
Females usually dig dens in snowdrifts on southerly facing slopes.
Some dig earthen dens that later become covered by snow.
Polar Bear cubs stay with thier mother for 2 - 21/2 years.
Polar bear cubs are born small and helpless, with their eyes closed.
Cubs usually weight less then 1 kilogram (21/2 lbs) and about 25 centimeters (12 inches) long
The fur is very fine at birth, making the cubs look hairless.
During their first few weeks of life polar bear cubs nurse most of the time and stay close to their mother to keep warm.
Cubs start eating solid foods around 4 months old. Up to that point they feed on their mothers milk.
Female Bears sometimes carry thier cubs on their
backs when encountering deep snow.
Polar bears life span is normally 20 - 30 years in the wild and up to 35 years in captivity.
The oldest known polar bear in the Arctic lived 32 years. The oldest known polar bear in a zoological park lived 41 years.
Age can be estimated by examining a thin slice of tooth and counting the layers.
During cold weather and shortage of food they slow their metabolism to conserve energy..Other bears can only do this in the winter.
At minus 40 degerees celcius they are still comfortable.
In addition to eating lots of seals they also eat the occasional whale, berries, seaweed, fish and birds during the summer months.
A full grown male bear can eat 100 kilograms ( 250 pounds) per day.
The maximum speed is up to 40 kilometers per hour (25mph).
You cannot outrun them. Your best chance for survival when travelling in
Polar bear territory is to take a compannion with you that is a slower runner.
Polar Bears can swin up to 10 kilometers per hour ( 6 mph) and has been seen swimming as far as 100 kilometers (60 miles).
Polar bears can swim under water at depths of about 3 to 4.5 m (9.8-14.8 ft.).
They can remain submerged for as long as two minutes
During the summer migration a mother and cub was tracked by satellite and travelled up to 6000 kilometers (4000 miles) in 5 months.
Their outer fur is stiff, hollow, oily and water repellant. They also have a thick under layer of thin hair. When they shake their bodies, all the water is removed .
They have acute smell and can smell a seal 30 Kms (20 miles) away.
Their sight and hearing are about the same as humans.
There has been lots of attacks and some fatal human encounters with Polar bears. The Polar bears are usually the victor.
Inuit (Eskimos) eat the meat of Polar Bears. They participate in a heritage seasonal hunt which is closely regulated by the Canadian Wildlife Officers.
The presence of toxic chemicals in polar bears due to the effects of pollution may have long-term effects on their health and longevity. Evedience of Global
warming is threatening the food supply for Polar Bears in the arctic. The continued melting of the arctic ice cap has resulted in a diminished area
and access of food for the bears.