The world’s polar bears are divided into 19 subpopulations, including two in U.S. waters. (AP Photo Eric Regehr via AP)
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Polar bears are listed as a threatened species because of diminished sea ice due to climate change."Polar bears need ice to hunt seals, and the ice is projected to decline until the underlying problem of climate change is addressed," Regehr said.The study shows there is variation around the world in the effects of sea ice loss on polar bears, he said Thursday. A more recent study by USGS researcher Karyn Rode found that Chukchi bears spend more time on shore and have almost 30 fewer days to hunt seals on ice than 20 years ago, Regehr said.Polar bears have an amazing ability to build fat reserves, Regehr said, and the Chukchi's abundant seal population apparently allows bears to compensate for the loss of hunting time.The Chukchi population study used data collected by sampling about 60 polar bears between 2008 and 2016 .
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