Polar bears share turf with brown bears in Alaska


From 2002 to 2004, scientists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documented large groups of brown and polar bears on two barrier islands in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea, feeding on whale remains left by Inupiat whaling crews in Nuiqsut and Kaktovik.

The observations come as polar bears appear to be increasing along that coast during fall, possibly due to sea ice remaining offshore for longer periods.

“You’ll see these bears sitting on top of a rotten carcass with their head down in the carcass, burrowed down into the carcass up to their shoulders, not even coming up for air and just feeding,” Scott Schliebe from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told the Anchorage Daily News. “You hear all the noise that goes with it. It sounds like something out of Jurassic Park in the dark.”

An estimated 2,300 polar bears are found in Alaska and Canadian areas of the southern Beaufort Sea.

During the past few years, changing wind patterns and warmer temperatures have shrunk ice coverage near Alaska during late summer and fall, sometimes stranding polar bears on shore.

Meanwhile, since 2003, more brown bears have appeared in the same area, wandering out from the nearby Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Wildlife officials noted the brown bears tended to be a lot more aggressive than the polar bears.

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