Join the Fight: Save the Polar Bears and Their Home

| 8 min read Crowdfunding

The habitat of polar bears is disappearing rapidly due to the fast-changing climate. Polar bears play a crucial role in balancing the Arctic food chain; the ecosystem would be thrown out of balance without them. The drastic effect of climate change on polar bears is due to their reliance on sea ice to access their primary source of food, i.e., seals and for resting and breeding. As sea ice decreases yearly, polar bears and other ice-dependent creatures face the risk of extinction.

A study by the University of Washington and Polar Bears International in Montana found a direct link between greenhouse gas emissions and polar bear survival. Due to global warming, the Arctic has been warming up, causing a reduction in sea ice. This has led to polar bears losing their vital hunting platform and being forced to fast during summers. Researchers predict that up to two-thirds of the world’s polar bears could disappear by mid-century.

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Polar bear facts you should know

If we don’t do something soon, polar bears are at risk of becoming endangered—or even extinct. Here are five polar bear facts you should know:

  • Polar bears are currently considered a vulnerable species, with only an estimated 22,000—31,000 remaining in the wild. 
  • A polar bear’s hunting success rate is around 10%. Polar bears search for their food for a vast majority of their time. 
  • Without the Arctic sea ice, polar bears will starve. Polar bears are mainly passive hunters, patiently waiting for their prey near breathing holes on the sea ice.
  • Polar bears are dependent on seals as their primary food source. A full-grown polar bear must eat 2—3 adult seals every month, or risk losing up to 30% of its body weight.
  • Another man-made threat to polar bears comes from the oil and gas industry: if drilling in the Arctic Refuge becomes a reality, polar bears are further at risk of losing their dens and hunting territory.

Current threats to polar bears

The effects of climate change and sea ice loss have caused a significant impact on polar bears. With the rising temperatures, polar bears may suffer from declining sea ice more rapidly. Polar bears are particularly vulnerable to changes in sea ice because their hunting strategies rely on consuming as many seals as possible in the spring and early summer when the seals have their pups. It helps the polar bears gain a lot of fat to survive the year as carnivores. 

However, if sea ice is missing or is thinner and drifting longer distances, polar bears can’t catch as many seals and use more energy than they take in. A study also found that polar bears can lose up to about 10 percent of their body mass, equivalent to about 44 pounds, in just 10 days due to their fast metabolism. In the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska, climate change has already experienced a 40 percent decline in polar bear pups from 2004 to 2007, likely caused by sea ice changes. 

Importance of polar bears

Polar bears play a crucial role in the Arctic ecosystem as a keystone predator that helps balance seal and fish populations. They are essential for regulating the Arctic food web and ensuring a healthy marine environment by preventing the overpopulation of seals. Polar bears are an indicator species that warn us about climate change. They are uniquely adapted to their original habitat, making preserving the Arctic’s pristine wilderness urgent. 

Also, polar bears hold immense cultural and economic significance for indigenous groups who have sustainably hunted them for centuries. For these communities, polar bears represent not only a source of livelihood but also a symbol of harmonious coexistence with the Arctic environment. Conserving polar bears is about protecting a single species and safeguarding the entire ecosystem and its intricate connections.

Current polar bear protection efforts

Efforts to protect polar bears from the challenges of climate change require a multifaceted approach.

  • Tracking collars provide valuable data on bear movements and behaviors, and satellite imaging aids habitat monitoring, assessing the impact of melting ice. 
  • Patrols and deterrents, such as food containers and electric fences, are used to minimize human-bear conflicts.
  • Identifying denning areas is vital for legal protection and the safety of polar bear populations during vulnerable periods.
  • Conservation efforts involve advocating against industrial activities in crucial habitats and promoting the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
  • International cooperation agreements, like the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, highlight the need for collaborative efforts to protect these iconic creatures from the effects of climate change.

How to help save the polar bears

There are many things you can do to help protect one of our planet’s most unique animals. From fundraising for environmental charities to reducing your carbon footprint, learn how to save polar bears from extinction with these ideas.

Volunteer your time

Depending on where you live, you can also volunteer with any of the following organizations that help polar bears:

  • The only organization dedicated entirely to preserving wild polar bear populations, Polar Bears International needs the help of dedicated volunteers for their education and outreach efforts. You can sign up to be a part of the volunteer team that travels to Manitoba, Canada for two weeks each year, with the goal of educating visitors about polar bears and the importance of reversing climate change. 
  • Become a volunteer researcher through the EarthWatch Institute, and study climate change in the Arctic. You’ll work alongside scientists to help measure the effects of climate change and shrinking sea ice, and monitor the health of the rapidly-changing Arctic ecosystem.
  • Volunteer in Cochrane, Canada at the Polar Bear Habitat. The Habitat accepts both local and international volunteers, with volunteer programs ranging from 2—4 weeks. You’ll gain valuable field experience, and will help monitor the behavior of polar bears, collect data, and maintain the habitat. 

Help fight climate change

Polar bears are just one small part of our environment that need protecting. From saving our honeybees to protecting the ocean, many areas of our planet need relief from the effects of climate change. To make an impact no matter where you live, consider doing one or more of the following to prevent global warming:

  • Try carpooling or biking to work. Transportation is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, and making your daily commute a little greener will go a long way toward a healthy environment. 
  • Consider how your diet impacts the planet. Reduce your consumption of animal products, and buy local produce when possible.
  • Start a community project in support of the environment. One fun idea is to gather friends and neighbors together and host a tree-planting party. Coordinate with your city to find a suitable location in need of trees, and start a fundraiser to cover the cost of supplies.

Raise money for an environmental charity on GoFundMe

There are many charities that support both the environment, as well as polar bear conservation. Online fundraising for environmental charities can be fun and easy with GoFundMe, and is a great way to include family and friends in your efforts to protect the planet. Use these top fundraising tips to make sure your fundraiser is a success:

  • Start a charity fundraiser for a nonprofit that helps the environment. Choose an organization whose mission you support. 
  • Connect with your donors and tell your story. Explain what makes this cause so important to you.
  • Host a fundraising event to build community support and increase donations. Ideas include throwing a charity sporting event, hosting a car wash, or starting a bake sale.

Contact representatives urging climate action

Contact your government representative to advocate for policies prioritizing renewable energy, emissions reduction, and international cooperation to combat climate change and save the polar bears. By urging decisive climate action, you can help protect the polar bears and the delicate balance of ecosystems worldwide.

Fundraisers helping to protect the polar bears

People all over the world are concerned about the survival of polar bears, and are using crowdfunding to make a difference. Take a look at two examples of how others have used fundraising to support a cause they care about.

Repairing a sanctuary for polar bears

The Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat in Canada is home to five polar bears who cannot survive in the wild. In addition to full-time polar bear care, the Habitat also partners with scientists and biologists to research how polar bears are affected by climate change. When a storm damaged their polar bear enclosures, a manager there started a fundraiser to help with repairs. The organization  raised over $4,000 to successfully restore the enclosures.

Fundraising for an arctic expedition

Rachel, a mountaineer and writer, started a fundraiser to support a trip to the arctic for herself and four other women. The goal of the expedition was to document climate change in the arctic and assist with research, including monitoring polar bears and their behavior. Rachel raised nearly $2,000 to support her trip. 

Polar bears need your help today

Polar bears are a critical part of the Arctic food chain, keeping both the seal and fish populations in check. Without these top predators, the Arctic ecosystem would be thrown out of balance—possibly change permanently. Sign up and start your fundraiser through GoFundMe today, and take a stand for the polar bears who share our planet.

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Written by GoFundMe