While climate change remains the greatest threat to the polar bear’s survival, that is not all that the predator is up against. The oil and gas industry is turning its eyes to the arctic, and with it comes the potential risks of habitat destruction from oil exploration work. Contact with oil spills can reduce the insulating effect of a bear’s fur requiring them to use more energy to get warm, and can poison them if ingested. Polar bears can also be exposed to toxic chemicals such as pesticides through their prey, which can affect a bear's biological functioning and ability to reproduce.
Melting sea ice from climate change has increased human-polar bear conflicts when hungry polar bears go searching for food in the summer. Fortunately, people are learning to adapt to the polar bear's presence and take preventative measures to reduce the risk of conflict. Learn more about the threats to polar bears and how we are working to solve them.