Their physical characteristics make polar bears a perfect fit for the arctic. The polar bear’s oily and water-repellent fur allows it to easily shake off the water and ice that may have formed after swimming. Their thick layer of body fat and small ears enable them to conserve body heat. The bear’s white fur turns a yellowish color due to oxidation from the sun but still serves as camouflage. Their large paws have black pads covered with soft papillae, also called dermal bumps, which create friction and prevent slipping. Polar bears have partially webbed forepaws and elongated hind paws making it easy for them to swim (WWF: A Leader in Polar Bear).
Hunting was a major threat to polar bears in the 1960s. Hunters have taken to hunting bears from planes in Alaska. This sport hunting is now illegal. The bear’s fur is obtained as a trophy for the floor or to make coats; polar bears also provide meat. Until 1950, only Inuit’s hunted the polar bears barely killing one-hundred a year; now 700 are killed each year due to illegal hunting. Because hunters placed a great deal of pressure on polar bears, the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears was signed on November 15, 1973 in Oslo Polar Bears International).
The polar bear population is estimated to b...
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Carlton, Jim. "Is global warming killing the polar bears?" The Wall Street Journal - Online. 14
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"Polar Bears." Animals: Explore, Discover, Connect. Web. 05 Nov 2009.
"Polar Bear Ursus Maritimus." US Fish and Wildlife Service. Oct 2009. Web. 06 Nov 2009.
Soon, Willie, Kesten Green, and J. Scott Armstrong. "Polar Opposites." TCS Daily. 08 Feb 2008. Web. 7 Nov 2009.
"WWF: A leader in Polar Bear Conservation." WWF. Web. 08 Oct 2009.
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