Polar Bear Cannibalism May Be Rising

Bears now seen eating cubs on sea ice
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2011 1:19 AM CST
Polar Bear Cannibalism May Be Rising
To a hungry male polar bear, this might look like lunch.   (AP Photo/Discovery Channel, Chadden Hunter)

Male polar bears have long been known to prey on cubs and even females, but bear cannibalism is more widespread than earlier thought, and may be on the increase because of climate change, researchers warn. Most previous sightings of bear eating bear involved animals on shore late in the year, but several sightings have been reported recently of polar bear cannibalism taking place in summer while the bears were still using floating sea ice as platforms to hunt seals, MSNBC reports.

"As the climate continues to warm and sea ice continues to break up and melt at earlier dates, thus making seals less available earlier in the summer, the frequency of intra-species predation and cannibalism may increase," the researchers wrote in the journal Arctic. They noted, however, that it may also be the case that polar bear cannibalism may be relatively normal and it is being reported more often "as more ships go farther into the disintegrating ice to view and photograph polar bears." (More polar bear stories.)

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