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  Habitat & Distribution




Polar bears are natives to the cold arctic climates of high latitudes.  Polar bears are commonly found in regions around the North Pole.  These areas include: parts of Canada, extending from the northern Arctic Islands to the southern Hudson Bay area, Greenland, islands near the coast of Norway, the Soviet Union coast, and the coasts of Alaska (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1-2).  However, polar bears have been found as far as 88 degrees north and as far south as the Pribilof Islands, which are located in the Bering Sea, as well as the island of Newfoundland, Iceland and the southern tip of Greenland. (Nowak, 1093).  The regions around the North Pole are subject to periodic ice fracturing along with open water and land. According to DeMaster and Stirling, the refreezing of fractured ice makes it easier for the polar bear to find food and success in hunting (Nowak,1093).   According to Ruff and Wilson, very few polar bears occupy the multiyear ice of the polar basin.  This is largely because the pack ice in this region is far less productive and the food supply is very limited.  Male and female polar bears are different in that they occupy different areas of the land at different times of the year. 

located at http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/bear-facts/
This picture above was taken from Polar Bears International; this polar bear has secured a spot on the open sea pack ice.

During pregnancy, female polar bears can be found on the mainland in their hibernating dens.  Contrastingly, the male polar bears remain on the ice during the duration of the pregnancy.  In the summertime, both male and female polar bears can be found on the ice hunting for food.  North-south migrations are common among the polar bear population as well.  Such migrations occur when the pack ice recedes northward in the spring and advances southward in the fall.  This type of migration generally takes place when food is scarce and supply is low.  There are some populations of polar bears, however, that are constant and do all of their hunting and breeding in one area.  Although most polar bears position themselves either along the coastline or several hundred kilometers from shore, some polar bears will locate relatively close to the shore.  Some polar bears have been known to wander as close as 200 kilometers from the inland (Nowak, 1093).  Although the polar bear may relocate many different times throughout the year, it is not considered to be a nomad (Nowak, 1093). 


located at http://images.fws.gov/
The above picture was taken from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Digital Library System. This polar bear is walking along the inland coast. 


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Created by: Alison Kolinski
 Feel free to contact me with comments at kolinski.alis@students.uwlax.edu