Thursday, 2 April 2015

Hunting on Land Can't Help a Hungry Polar Bear


by Becky Oskin, Senior Writer | April 01, 2015 01:00pm ET

Even though some polar bears are hunting on land more often in areas hit by climate change, a diet of bird eggs and berries can't sustain these huge animals, a new study finds.

Only a handful of polar bears have been spotted snacking on land-based foods to supplement their traditional, blubber-rich diet of seals and marine mammals. But researchers have wondered whether the high-protein, high-carbohydrate foods polar bears eat on land — such as caribou and berries — could help these symbols of the perils of climate change survive, as sea-ice loss makes seals harder to snatch.

It turns out the calorie trade-off isn't worth it, according to the study, a review of previous research on bear diets published today (April 1) in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The biggest bears on the planet, polar bears spend so much energy searching for berries or chasing down caribou that they reap little caloric reward from these meals.

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