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Polar Bears Switching to Global Warming Diet January 31, 2014
Polar bear feeding on seal.
A polar bear eating its usual prey of ringed seal.
Polar bears have changed their diets over the past few years to cope with a warmer Arctic climate that has cut them off from their usual prey of ringed seal pups.

Since Arctic sea ice has been melting earlier and freezing later each year, polar bears have only a short period of time to hunt the seals. This forces them to move to other food on land.

Linda J. Gormezano of the American Museum of Natural History and the Hudson Bay Project says she and colleagues have found the bears are now eating more snow geese, their eggs and caribou.

“The bears can basically just walk on land and pick up eggs,” said Gormezano.

She adds that the bears may be drawn to the abundance of snow-goose nests in recent years, which is in sharp contrast to the fewer than 2,500 pairs that nested in the Hudson Bay region during the 1960s.

The bears have also been seen eating more grass along the coast and more berries inland.

“We're finding that [the polar bears] might be more resilient than is commonly thought,” said the museum’s Robert Rockwell.

Photo: Robert Rockwell - American Museum of Natural History