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As climate change sets in, polar bears look to human habitats for food

Polar bears looking for food in human inhabited regions have proved to be dangerous

Arctic settlements are experiencing a problem. As the winter sets in, the problem tends to grow manifold. As per the records of winter 2019, the issue catapulted to a major crisis, and it has drawn the attention of the world.

What we are talking about here is the story of hungry polar bears across the Arctic settlements. During the past three-month period, Belushya Guba, a coastal village in Russia, has been witnessing raids by the hungry animals. Their targets are local dumps where they expect food to exist.

It has been reported that more than 50 hungry bears have been invading the village in search of food. Worse still, they have been ripping open doors and climbing through windows of houses as they rummage through whatever they think is edible.

Polar bears have a sharp sense of smell

Attack on the local people have gone up. Also, some of the bears have also lost their lives in the midst of their violent raids. Who, or what is to blame? The answer is clear. With climate change turning out to be a risky proposition, loss of sea ice has lured bears to land more than ever before. And as the bears look for food, they are easily drawn by the smell of human food and waste piling up in the village. They have realised that food is in abundance in the dumps around and they make all effort to get to them.

It is a known fact that polar bears have been bestowed with a sharp sense of smell, and they use this ability to the maximum as they hunt for food. Their sense of smell aids them in locating food from far and they make it a point to rush to get to their food.  Polar bears normally feed on seals, but with climate change setting in, their natural food sources are fast drying up. That makes them look for food on land, and when they are lured by the smell of food other than that of seals, it could turn out to be a problem for the people around.

Apart from the waste dumps, smell emanating substances such as meat hung outside homes, barbecue grills and even bird seed could lure the hungry bears. It has been found that once they locate a food source they never tend to forget it and comes back for more.

polar bear
Images courtesy: Pixabay

Climate change is bringing in unforeseen risks

The effect of climate change is such that polar sea ice has been on a faster wane. Compared to three decades ago, polar ice has diminished so fast that only around 40 percent less ice exists today. All these make the mean and hungry polar bears look landward for food, making people an easy target as they come in between the animals and the food they look for.

Expert suggestions are that coastal villages close to the arctic region need to practice effective waste management, so that the animals are not lured by the smell of dumps. It has been suggested that warehousing garbage and barging it offsite to facilities where it can be safely disposed of could be a good solution. Also suggested is electric fencing to keep the bears at bay.

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Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »

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