Polar bears have shifted to a diet of more land-based food in response to climate change and melting sea ice in the Arctic, new research finds. The results suggest that polar bears, at least in the western Hudson Bay area, may be slightly more flexible in the face of climate change than previously thought.
"We found they were eating more of what is available on the land," including snow geese, eggs and caribou, said study co-author Linda Gormezano, a vertebrate biologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Still, it's not clear that this foraging strategy can offset the negative impacts of climate change, with one scientist saying it is unlikely to make a difference for polar bear numbers.
Preferred Diet Polar bears rely heavily on seals and other marine mammals for food. The white bears wait at gaps in the sea ice for their blubbery prey to surface, then pounce, according to the nonprofit conservation organization Polar Bears International.
When the sea ice melts, polar bears come ashore and eat a variety of foods, including mushrooms and berries, in addition to snow geese and other animals. [See Images of Polar Bears Feasting on Prey]