Close Encounter of the Bear Kind

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A landlocked polar bear, too close for comfort, forced a crew of five Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) scientists to evacuate a remote camp in northern Alaska. The scientists were studying the impacts of climate change on Arctic shorelines.

Typically at this time of year, polar bears spend their days hunting seals on sea ice, but recent warming has caused the ice to recede miles from shore. In fact, the bears have been trapped on land in Arctic Alaska all spring and summer, unable to swim out to sea ice. Their condition is unknown.

“It is ironic that our efforts to understand how climate change is affecting wildlife were disrupted by the top Arctic predator displaced by climate,” said Dr. Steve Zack of WCS. He and conservation scientist Joe Liebezeit, who together lead the Arctic studies for WCS, will continue their work on shorebirds in the Prudhoe Bay region this season.

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