Starving polar bear caught on camera
A video showing an emaciated polar bear struggling to walk has gone viral and the conservation group who captured the footage believe that climate change is to blame.
Polar bears rely heavily on sea ice when it comes to their food, but as our climate trends to warmer temperatures, the bears’ main source of food, seal and walrus are not as plentiful because of the warmer weather.
The animal, who clearly appears to be having difficulty walking due to being so weak, is shown scavenging for food around an abandoned fishing camp on Somerset Island, near Baffin Island in Nunavut.
The video shows the poor bear in great detail, and its ribs are clearly visible through its skin and its fur looks very thin and unhealthy.
The video shows the bear staggering to a garbage can and pulling out what appears to be the remains of a burnt seat.
It is clear that one of the animal’s back legs is no longer working, as muscle atrophy from lack of food has taken its toll as he is sceen dragging it behind him.
film crew in tears
“When the animal first got up and we could see that he was actually in the late stages of starvation. It was incredibly shocking,” SeaLegacy co-founder Cristina Mittermeier told As It Happens guest host Jim Brown.
“It looked like a piece of the seat from a snowmobile,” she said. “That’s what it was eating — this foam that was burned and charred and absolutely not edible.”
“All of our team was in tears and feeling completely helpless to do anything about it except to roll our cameras and share it with the world.”
Many who have seen the video, have questioned why the film crew did not intervene when they saw how close to death the bear was.
There was nothing we could do
Mittermeier states that the bear was so close to death that anything they could do would’ve just prolonged its suffering.
“People need to understand that polar bears can eat several hundreds of pounds of seal meat in a matter of days,” Mittermeier said.
“Of course, that crossed my mind,” said photographer Paul Nicklen. “But it’s not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat.”
Writing on Instagram, he added: “When scientists say polar bears will be extinct in the next 100 years, I think of the global population of 25,000 bears dying in this manner.
“There is no band aid solution. There was no saving this individual bear.”
“We hear from scientists that in the next 100 to 150 years, we’re going to lose polar bears,” Mittermeier said.
“We wanted the world to see what starvation of a majestic animal like this looks like.”
Nicklen also stated that the bear would have died very shortly after that footage was captured.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca