by Anya Dimelow February 27, 2016

Ice loss due to climate change is the cause of the dramatic fall in polar bear populations. Between 22,000 and 31,000 polar bears live globally today, but their numbers are expected to decline by two-thirds in the coming 35-40 years.

“Why do polar bears need snow to survive? Why can’t they live without ice?” asks Mila, age 8. “If the Arctic is melting, why don’t polar bears go somewhere else, like Antarctica, or some other place where there is lots of snow?”

Read our answers below…  

Q: Why do polar bears need ice and snow to survive?

A: Because of the extremely cold climate, polar bears need food with a high content of fat and that makes seals their ideal prey. Polar bears need ice to capture their prey. They sit near the breathing holes and wait for a seal to pop up. Without sea ice, bears won’t be able to catch any seals. All other food that can be found by polar bears – fish, eggs, reindeer, and human garbage – is not so high in calories. Polar bears will starve on that food alone. 


Polar bears need ice to capture their prey. 

Snow is important too. Polar bear cubs are born in the snow dens made by their mothers. Male polar bears make slipping dens for themselves in case of the extreme cold weather. Sometimes polar bears roll in the snow – to keep their fur clean or to cool off if they get hot. 

Q: Can they live somewhere else where there is snow?

A: It’s not snow, but sea ice and seals that are important for the polar bears. The top Arctic predator can be found in all territories of the Northern Hemisphere, where both sea ice and the seal population are present: Northern America (USA, Canada and Greenland), Eurasia (Norway and Russia). The only territory that has sea ice and seals and is not inhabited by the polar bear is Antarctica.

Q: Can’t polar bear move to Antarctica?

A: An Introduction of polar bears to Antarctica is not a simple solution and includes many risks. Animals of the Antarctica, particularly penguins, could become easy prey for polar bears. Penguins do not expect any danger on the land and use it as their safe breeding ground.

Can you imagine the devastation that will happen if a polar bear stumbles upon penguin's breeding ground or a baby 'crèche'? (© Fred Olivier/

Similarly, seals of Antarctica don’t have any fear of things on the surface. (Biologists are even able to simply walk up to them, roll them over, and measure their lengths!). It wouldn’t take long for the polar bears to wipe out all of the penguins and the seals. Left with no food, the polar bears would not survive either.

The conclusion? The only thing really that will save polar bears in the long run is to cut greenhouse gases and stop the warming of the planet.

11 Responses

Alison Venugoban
Alison Venugoban

November 10, 2022

No, please don’t introduce Polar Bears to the Antarctic. Polar bears don’t hibernate, but must hunt all winter long. They would devastate the colonies of Penguins that nest over the winter. The parent birds tuck their single chick under a layer of fat, sitting atop their feet, while the other parent is away fishing the frigid waters. For months at a time. Just imagine what would happen if even a single huge starving bear suddenly got into a nesting colony? Not only would the parent birds be unable to run, the chicks would die as well. Soon we would still have the huge starving bear and all the penguins would be extinct.
Has humanity learned nothing from the introduction of cane toads, rabbits, foxes, mice and rats into Australia, just to name a few of the ferals?
REALLY bad idea, humanity.


May 26, 2020

Why don’t we send polar bears to the homes of people who want to save them?


April 06, 2020

Any fool that believes that (modern) humans are not responsible for the majority of the planet’s problems is just that….a fool, or so deep in denial that they must be profiting from these problems. Or, maybe, could be… they just have their head jammed deep up into a dark stinky place? Now that’s even more sad than the plight of the planet. Book smart, brain dumb. That’s why there’s a clear difference between education and intelligence, both of which constitute “smart.” Intelligence cannot be claimed through education (the studying of books written by other people, who, in turn studied books written by other people still….kinda like the game “telephone.” There’s much to be said for being in tune with one’s surroundings. Just listen to the earth, even of it means having to leave the cozy little womb of a city you live in. They saying that “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” Is just something stupid people say. The dumbest questions that I’ve ever heard have come from that highest educated (book smart) people. 😥
Melissa Fitzgibbon
Melissa Fitzgibbon

April 06, 2020

I grew up in South New Zealand and there is a little island at the most southern tip of New Zealand called Stewart Island where they could start a colony of polar bears and monitor how the bears interact with the local wildlife, rare birds, penguins, seals and so on. The difficulty with starting an Antarctic polar bear colony is the long winter months when it is very difficult and expensive to access some parts of Antarctica by boat due to the Ice and air travel is also difficult due to the very low temperatures. That is why Stewart Island with its close proximity to the NZ mainland and relative isolation might be a preferable alternative and allow some tourists to pay for the privilege of seeing Polar Bears in the wild which in turn pays for the monitoring and vet care of the polar bears. The important thing is to get WWF and NZ animal lovers and NZ zoos to get on board with a Polar Bear Saving colony on Stewart Island and build enough support to get government permits for a colony/zoo for Polar Bears. I hope it happens one day soon and I would be thrilled to visit New Zealand’s most southern island for a spot of polar bear watching. If enough people support a project like that it just might happen! Here’s to people power helping save all endangered animals!

Jeffery L Kinzel
Jeffery L Kinzel

October 02, 2019

SHELAGH, Polar bears already live in Siberia and the Bering Straits, in fact they live all over the Arctic region.

shelagh brennan
shelagh brennan

September 06, 2019

I think it would be a good idea, if Polar bear move to Russia,Iceland,Denmark or the Beiring Straight!

John Bryson
John Bryson

September 02, 2019

Instead of guessing, why couldn’t we run a controlled experiment, where the behavior and results are monitored and published? The bears could be tagged, tracked, and their predation patterns could be monitored.

Of course, the risk here is that bears get out of control and become an issue like the feral cats in Australia.


July 03, 2019

Oh my gosh I finally heard some real truth about this fake global warming nonsense. All you have to think about is the last ice age in the last warming age there were no fossil fuels burning at those times was there so what stopped the warming and brought the cold and wet Stop the cold and bought the warming it’s just a money-making scheme to scare people and that’s all it’s taught in any type of schools now so they only get one side


June 22, 2019

Yeah? A small group of Polar Bears, strategically placed and monitored in Antarctica is a worthwhile endeavor. Penguins have to deal with Leopard Seals and Orcas in and out of the water. They know of the dangers they face right now and avoid them. The unwillingness to even try a small experiment says one thing, the Polar Bear is being used by the GW community as a pawn in their activism.


February 14, 2019

Speaking of biodiversity, have you ever wondered what a cynical creep looks like in the wild? There it is, a Frog working for Poles (Fred Olivier/

They couldn’t care less for the bears, it’s all about trying to blame global warming on our civilization. Shaming factories for all evils, See, shame on you, all these starving bears it’s all your fault. Like they fail to point out that the world is 75% oceans, that human plastic pollution is having such a devastating effect on wildlife, there isn’t a single fish without some form of micro-plastics in its flesh.

Computer models show, that even if you wanted to, by running every single man-made device on Earth continuously, non-stop for centuries, it wouldn’t have the slightest effect on the Sun’s heating of the planet.

Ice-ages come and go, since forever (America was once covered under 2 miles of ice), it depends on Earths inclination towards the sun, the Precession (look it up). It’s what makes temperatures change from -30C to +30C, summer to winter, the inclination of Earth towards the Sun. Now we are at the end of an ice-age and entering into a period of global warming, expected to last 13,000 years, give or take.

What they are really trying to do, is move factories from Europe and America, where they are highly regulated and subject to extremely rigorous and thorough pollution controls, to places like India where there are none. And if there are, you just give some upper-cast local authority a bribe and all is groovy.

India is the world’s number one pollutant, both industrial and population wise, with over a billion people throwing away plastic-bags, bottles and whatever they like without any recycling whatsoever or absolutely no government control of any kind. Just dump it the nearest stream and forget about it!

That is the real threat to nature and wildlife, the clear and present danger everybody refuses to acknowledge, because it costs too much.

Anyway, as far as polar bears are concerned, there would be absolutely no problem in moving, slowly, incrementally, a few couples to Antarctica. Should they get out of control, you do like with the elephants in Africa, you cull 50,000 of them in one go, if you must. And as for any exotic pathogens they might bring with them, how cynical can you get, when every year thousands of tourists, scientists and military bases, dwell all across the continent, spreading whatever it is they carry. Keep in mind, though, that no one ever catches the flu in Antarctica; it’s too cold even for microbes to multiply!


September 20, 2018

Wait a minute you are suggesting the polar bear is an indiscriminate killer and would just kill? Also the water is a long way from the nesting grounds and the seals would respond to danger as any animal would. Bad assumption.

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