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Polar bear dens could be susceptible to global warming

Published: Tuesday, June 26, 2012

As the Canadian Arctic grows warmer, polar bears that dig dens to the west of the Hudson Bay may face more challenging winters.

An increase in forest fires has destroyed dozens of dens over the last decade, and warmer winters are causing dens made of snow to collapse, sometimes killing mother bears and their cubs. Polar bears that survive a den collapse often have little energy left to build a new one.

"Like Goldilocks' bed, snow has to be just right -- not too soft and not too hard," said Andrew Derocher, a polar bear expert at the University of Alberta.

A shorter ice season has also hindered the bears' ability to hunt and store fat.

The denning region of western Hudson Bay has rarely experienced fires in the past, but warmer and drier conditions have triggered an increase in recent years, and climate models predict more forest fires are in store in the future (Ed Struzik, Edmonton Journal, June 24). -- LJ

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500


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Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500.

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