Where Do Polar Bears Live

Polar bears are among the most majestic and dangerous of Earth’s animals. With their distinctive white fur, large body and wide paws, polar bears are uniquely appealing. These beautiful bears are the largest land dwelling predators in the world. They are known as marine mammals because they dwell on the frozen sea, but exactly where do polar bears live? As their name suggests, polar bears are found throughout the cold, icy landscape of the Northern Hemisphere’s Arctic Circle.

Polar Bear Adaptation and Range

The specialized body of the polar bear makes it one of the few land animals found exclusively in colder climates. A thick coat of insulated fur covers a polar bear’s entire body. White fur provides camouflage in snow and ice, while the black skin underneath soaks in the sun’s warming rays. Fur covering the feet provides warmth and traction for walking on ice. A thick layer of fat provides insulation and adds buoyancy. With their streamlined shape and large, flat feet, polar bears are excellent swimmers.
These physical adaptations allow polar bears to survive in the extreme polar environment. Polar bears live throughout the Arctic Circle. Alaska, Canada, Russia, Greenland and Norway are all home to polar bear populations. Some polar bears live as far south as James Bay in Canada. While polar bear tracks have been found as far north as the North Pole, few bears inhabit this area because extreme northern regions offer little food.

Polar Bear Habitat

Polar bears live mainly on sea ice next to continental coastlines or islands. They prefer ice with channels, cracks or larger areas of open water. Such areas allow polar bears to hunt seals coming to the surface for air. Bears may also hunt off the edges of sea ice, or stalk seals resting atop the ice.
Because only pregnant females hibernate, most polar bears must migrate year-round in pursuit food. Polar bears follow the ice pack as it recedes and advances with the seasons. Some remain at the edges of the ice pack, migrating long distances as they follow the ice. In more southern areas, some bears move onto land during the summer.
At the beginning of winter, pregnant females build dens in large snow drifts. Dens are usually located on sea ice or nearby land. Mothers and cubs remain in the den until early spring.