Polar bears turn to cannibalism as ice melts

| 16/12/2011

arctic-polar-bears-110225-02 (300x280).jpg(LiveScience): Summer and fall are lean times for polar bears in the Arctic. In the colder months, they prey on seals, which sprawl on the sea ice that fringes the bears' terrain. But in the summer, much of this icy real estate melts away, and the seals take to the open seas or move north toward ice floes beyond the polar bears' reach. Left without their usual prey, the bears occasionally resort to a disturbing behavior: cannibalism. A new article in the journal Arctic suggests that polar bear cannibalism typically the predation of small bears or cubs by much larger adult males — is either much more commonplace than previously thought, or has lately become more common. (Photo USFWS)

In the paper, leading polar bear biologist Ian Stirling and nature photographer JennyRoss detail three recent instances of the behavior among polar bears in Norway's Svalbard Archipelago, each of which was photographed from the decks of ecotourism and research boats anchored a few hundred yards away.

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