Heartbreaking Footage Shows Polar Bear Starving To Death On Iceless Land


Footage of a starving polar bear on iceless land has surfaced, revealing the disastrous consequences of climate change. Photographer Paul Nicklen and filmmakers from the conservation group Sea Legacy captured the video on Canada’s Baffin Island.

Nicklen grew up in Northern Canada and is no stranger to seeing bears in the wild, but the sight of the starving polar bear was unfamiliar and heart-wrenching. He posted a selection of video footage from the day on social media, hoping to bring the issue some much-needed attention.

“We stood there crying – filming with tears rolling down our cheeks,” he said of witnessing the emaciated bear forage for anything it could eat. The animal is clearly close to death, as its boney frame is visible under its patchy fur. 

It searches a garbage can, used seasonally by Inuit fishers, for something to eat. Finding nothing, it struggles to move away, likely suffering from muscle weakness and atrophy, before collapsing to the ground. Polar bears usually weigh over 1,000 lbs, but this one is nowhere near that. Nicklen has been asked why he didn’t help the bear or offer some food. His response is logical.

“Of course, that crossed my mind,” he said. “But it’s not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat.”

Feeding polar bears in Canada is also illegal, so Nicklen thought filming the bear and sharing the footage widely might bring awareness to the larger situation. Instead of helping one bear, he hopes that steps toward remedying the bigger climate crisis can be taken.

“When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death,” said Nicklen. “This is what a starving bear looks like.”

The fact that the land is also void of ice is distressing. Polar bears generally hunt on ice fields because their diet primarily consists of seals, which come onto the ice. No ice means no seals. While polar bears have been known to fast during warmest summer months because of the rising temperatures, in general, mean longer periods of time without ice, and scientists are noticing that by the end of last summer, many polar bears were showing signs of starvation. You can watch Nicklen’s video below: In 2002, the World Wildlife Fund declared that due to climate change, polar bears would likely become endangered or extinct. Currently, they are listed as a vulnerable species. Since polar bears live in the Arctic, they are often one of the first animals to suffer the consequences of climate change as ice flows begin to melt and disappear. While Canada is home to the majority of the world’s polar bear populations, their numbers are definitely dwindling. Climate change deniers like to discredit any threat facing polar bears as a way to support their argument. However, there is factual evidence that sea ice is melting and directly impacting the animals. To see what an incredible creature the polar bear is, check out the video below of a wild polar bear playing with a dog in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. The town is one of the few human settlements where polar bears can be observed in the wild! Hopefully, Nicklen’s video will strike a chord with those who previously turned a blind eye to the situation.

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