A polar bear was seen floating on an ice floe, stranded for what appeared to be more than 400 miles away from its original home.
Witnesses said there was not enough ice in the water for the polar bear to change directions, so by the time he made it ashore at the Russian village of Tilichikli on the Kamchatka peninsula, he was already 434 miles away from its natural habitat and he is already exhausted.
Geoff York, director of conservation for Polar Bears International, said polar bears travel long distances across the Arctic these days to scavenge for food due to the rising temperatures, which could become a real threat to the species in the coming years.
“We do see polar bears showing up in unusual places from time to time, and there is some concern that this could become more frequent as the Arctic warms and sea ice continues to melt,” York has told The Dodo in an interview. “Polar bears, like most wildlife, have pretty amazing abilities regarding navigation. But for an animal that lives atop drifting sea ice, sometimes you have to go with the flow – literally.”
Most recently, polar bears wandered off in the Arctic Village in Alaska, while some got too close in a village in Russia. The communities had no other choice left, but to put up barriers, because the bears were already too close as they searched for food.
York reiterates the dangers melting of ice in the Arctic poses for the polar bears.
“We do know from other regions that early breakup is associated with negative impacts to polar bears,” York said. “This offers reduced hunting opportunities, decreased body condition, negative impact on reproduction, and in the worst case: negative impacts on survival.”