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Happy International Polar Bear Day 2013!

Elly Pepper

Posted February 27, 2013

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Today is International Polar Bear Day – a day to celebrate one of the most amazing, beautiful, and just plain cool animals.  Why are polar bears so awesome you might ask? Well, here are some fun facts that help explain the fascination so many of us have with these creatures:

  • Adult male polar bears weigh between 1,300 and 1,700 pounds and adult female polar bears weigh about half that.  Male polar bears measure 8-9 feet from nose to tail and female polar bears measure from 6-7 feet.
  • Polar bear cubs learn to freeze and remain still while their mother hunts.  If they move, the mother disciplines them, with a whack to the head.


                                                 © IFAW/N. Ovsyanikov

  • Some female polar bears deviate from the one room den, building dens with multiple rooms and even ventilation systems in the roof.
  • Paw pads with rough surfaces help prevent polar bears from slipping on the ice.
  • Polar bears can swim an average of 6 miles per hour.
  • Polar bears can swim up to 100 miles (161 kilometers) at a time.
  • A polar bear's fur is not white.  Each hair is clear hollow tube.  Polar bears look white because each hollow hair reflects the light. On sunny days, it traps the sun's heat and directs it to the polar bear’s black skin to keep the bear warm.
  • A polar bear’s skin is black.
  • A group of polar bears is known as a “Celebration.”

Unfortunately, despite how unique and astounding these creatures are, their existence is threatened by both climate change and the international commercial trade in their parts, which a single country – Canada – engages in. I know it seems pretty hard to believe, but the reality is that Canada kills around 600 polar bears a year to trade polar bear body parts (e.g., claws, skins, teeth) on the international market and quotas are only increasing.

Killing species whose future existence is already extremely precarious for their parts should be prohibited. That’s why, over the next two weeks, NRDC will be attending the Conventional on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to attempt to convince the international community to ban this practice.  Wish us luck! And take action here!

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Susan BornnFeb 27 2013 03:41 PM

Clarification on this article as it’s misleading.

The only people who can hunt polar bears in Canada are indigenous people who live in the area in which they are hunted. These are strictly substance hunters that hunt for food. These people can sell any non-food products (e.g.: hides, claws, etc) that are left over if they decide not to use these items themselves.

As with all hunting quotas across Canada, the quota fluctuates with the actually population of the animal in question. From 1994 thru 2004 the PB quotas were declining because the population was declining. Since 2005 they have gone up a bit but are still below the all-time high in the late 1980’s. These are just quotas though. Actual number of kills have been substantially less than the quotas that were set.

Commercial hunting is strictly forbidden.

christine obrienFeb 27 2013 04:06 PM

OMG those poor bears that pic was vile and disgusting and hunting should be banned or at least arm the bear so the odds are evened out thank you for trying to do something

Liliana GarciaFeb 27 2013 05:21 PM

Lets respect the life of these beautiful and magestic creatures!

Nurraq SiutaituqFeb 28 2013 09:27 AM

It's always concerning, to see ignorance, and misinformed folks, that are of our own nature! To see folks, that have no food, or barely any clothing, cause they can't afford, and try doing something about it, like feeding them, and maybe give em some clothing, or a means of making clothing, and also, following guidelines, which we respect, like Quota management, which we do on our own, and we respect that, because we respect the animal we hunt, and we don't take more than we need, because they are not ours to use, abuse, and misuse! they are a Mother natures, just as we are, and it's heartaching to see others, waste precious time on ones that have a better survival instinct the the best of us hunters, sustainers, than to see folks do something about ones that are in need! I'm a sustenance hunter, but I volunteer my time to children, folks that were traumatized, and in Developing countrys, because I believe they need it, and it turn, my reward is hope that we can make a change is possible feeling, is all i need! I love Polar Bears, they are my brother, and I believe they will survive long after we do!

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