Food shortages have prompted polar bears to turn to seabird eggs for hunger relief, as thawing has reduced their areas of predation.
The threat of climate change to polar bears is becoming increasingly apparent at the rate of change in Earth’s north pole, which is seeing heat levels double as fast as the entire planet.
This has led to the shrinking of the sea ice, shortening the time for hunting seals, the preferred prey of polar bears.
To find alternative food sources, polar bears have had to travel further to hunt and even invade human landfills.
Researchers in Canada have found that many individuals of polar bears also steal sea duck eggs on Mitivik Island in the territory of Nunavut.
The Canadian scientists’ study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, tracked how bears approached sea duck nests and lost eggs over a period of 11 days.
The authors say the behavior of polar bears suggests animals may incorporate “less popular” options into their diets as their primary food source becomes hard to come by.
Patrick Jagielski, lead author of the study, said they are still unable to measure the ability of polar bears to cope with climate change, nor are they sure that the eggs of seabirds could be another food substitute for seal meat.
Today, only about 25,000 polar bears live in the wild in the Arctic, scattered throughout Alaska, Canada, the island of Greenland, Norway and Russia.
In July, a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change estimated that polar bears were at risk of starving to death by 2100.