Polar Bears - How Dangerous Are They to Humans?

 

Polar bears are animals we love to see at zoos. They  attract humans  with their white  fur and black noses.  However , we often forget that polar bears are hunters, which mainly get their food by eating seals,  walruses  or  whales . Sometimes they even attack  humans .

In August 2011, a polar bear killed a British boy and  injured  several others on the island of Spitsbergen, Norway. This is, by no means , the only attack of polar bears against people. In the past 20 years six people were killed by polar bears in Canada alone. In Norway, one person was killed in the same time period.

Recent studies  show that the  aggression  polar bears show towards humans is  increasing . One of the reasons may be climate change .  As it gets warmer in the Arctic regions, polar bears may be  forced  to move from the  coastline inland , where they may  encounter  more humans. They are starting to spend more time on land than on Arctic sea ice. Another reason may be that people are coming too close  to the bears, which see them as a dangerous enemy .

Polar Bear in Alaska

Polar Bear in Alaska

 

 

Polar bears live all across the Arctic region, in Russia, Scandinavia, Alaska and Canada. But their numbers are falling quickly. Polar bears do most of their hunting on sea ice. As more and more ice is  melting , experts think that fewer polar bears will be able to  survive . They can go on for a longer time without food, but they do get aggressive when they can’t find anything to eat.

Another study suggests  that polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct  because of  increasing pollution  in the Arctic region. Chemicals and other waste  may have an  effect  on the body and bones of polar bears.

When polar bears  attack  humans, it is mostly because they are very hungry,  desperately  in need of food. As more and more polar bears and humans are starting to  share the same living areas,  encounters  are will probably be more  frequent  and more people may die from polar bear attacks.

 

 

 

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Words

  • aggression   = violent behaviour
  • attack   = to use violence to hurt or harm someone
  • attract   = create a centre of attention for, to pull towards
  • by no means   = not at all
  • climate change   = global warming; the atmosphere of the earth is getting warmer because heat is trapped in it
  • close   = near
  • coastline   = where land meats the sea
  • desperately   = to do anything to get what you want and need
  • effect   = result
  • encounter   = meet
  • enemy   = rival
  • extinct   = to die out
  • force   = they have to
  • frequent   = often
  • fur   = the thick soft hair that covers the bodies of some animals
  • however   = but
  • humans   = people
  • increase   = to go up
  • injure   = hurt
  • inland   = away from the coast, to the centre of an island or land
  • mainly   = in most cases
  • melt   = to turn to water
  • pollution   = the process of making air, water etc.. dirty
  • recent   = not long ago, lately
  • seal   = large sea animal that eats fish and lives around the coast
  • share   = use together
  • study   = a piece of work that is done to find out more about a certain topic
  • suggest   = say
  • survive   = to live on after a dangerous situation
  • walrus =  a large sea animal with two long teeth coming down from the side of its mouth
  • waste   = things that we do not need and dump somewhere
  • whale   = a large animal that looks like a fish but has to come up to the surface to breathe