Polar Bears’ Troubling New Prey: Polar Bears

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea may be turning to cannibalism because longer ice-free seasons are making it more difficult to hunt the ringed seals that are its principal food source.

A study published in the online version of the journal Polar Biology reviewed three examples of predation from January to April 2004 by polar bears, including the first-ever reported killing of a female in a den shortly after giving birth.

Polar bears do kill each other for dominance and breeding rights. But killing for food appears to be a new behavior, said principal author Steven Amstrup of the U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center.