Polar bears in Iceland

Despite Iceland actually having less ice by far than Greenland (a strange marketing ploy to get people to settle there centuries ago), it is still very much an arctic nation and and therefore it does occasionally get visits from polar bears.

Wild Polar bear on land

Polar bears are capable of phenomenally long swims, though if they don’t reach land eventually, they will drown. However, as Iceland falls within the Arctic, it is not uncommon for ice flows to come within easy reach of the land. While Iceland does not have a permanent population of bears, being as it does not fall within the usual range of Arctic sea ice, one of the strange impacts of global warming is that it is in places extending the sea ice – and this appears to be bringing the bears closer to Iceland which means that their visits may become more common.

A bear visited in 2016, another one in 2010 and two visited during 2008. Unfortunately ignoring the behaviour of the bears completely, the Icelandic rules state that any bear should be shot on site. Indeed on several of these occasions not only where the drugs necessary to tranquilize the bear close at hand but it was argued to this shouldn’t be done anyway.

With polar bears clearly threatened by the loss of the Arctic ice, if global warming is throwing them a lifeline by increasing the ice in parts of the Arctic where it did not exist before, humans must not shoot the bears in areas that they used to not exist. There is a little adjustment that they can make as their ice world disappears, we must not take away any small positive that occurs (even if this is only temporary).

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