Yes, there are polar bears in Alaska.
Polar Bears are one of the most fascinating apex predators you can come across. Some say they’re adorable (especially the cubs), but these giant bear species are not really talked about/focused on unless you are a wildlife enthusiast/environmental activist.
Polar Bears are beautiful but they should not be taken lightly.
So what exactly will you find in Alaska when it comes to Polar bears? Can you go on a viewing tour? How dangerous are these fuzzy furry giants? We have the answers.
Best Places To See Polar Bears In Alaska
Yes – there are spots travellers can sight these Arctic legends.
Sadly, polar bears have entered the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as their hunting grounds have dwindled and their numbers are depleting. However, Alaska is a place polar bears are known to thrive. Their numbers have been evaluated to fall in the range of 4000 – 7000.
So where can these marvels of nature be spotted?
There are tours available where travellers journey to the Eskimo village in Kaktovik – usually journeys are made on flights, which give incredible ariel views of Alaska’s Artic. It’s another popular place to view polar bears (under expert guidance, obviously).
The village is located on Barter Island, approx. 2250 kilometres from the North Pole! Most travellers tour a place named the ‘Bone Pile’ – a resting and feeding place for polar bears. There’s a better chance of spotting them in numbers during September and October.
Bering Land Bridge Preserve
It is famously known to be one of the most remote protected areas, it’s home to our star icon, the polar bear. The preserved landscape even contains some truly prehistoric sites of early human civilization.
Here the polar bears frequent the costliness along the preserve, so if you’re aiming to observe them, this will help. However, even during the summer, the weather can be icy, so it’s vital you carry the necessary gear to survive it. If the Polar Bears don’t get you, the harsh weather conditions might.
Cape Krusenstern National Monument
It’s protected as it’s home to diverse marine mammals that rule the artic region – including polar bears. It’s Bear Land! Even if you don’t spot one, you can never let your guard down because a polar might just have reached the lands away from the ice sea, wondering its way towards you.
St. Lawrence Island
During the winter season in Alaska, polar bears have been recorded to be sighted on St. Lawrence Island – located to the west side of Alaska, in the Bering Sea.
During the months of August and October, the ice melts a little more in the ocean, allowing these giant mammals to visit the land. It would be the ideal time to view one (or two if you’re lucky) making it to land.
St Mathew Island
It’s in the Bering Sea, a little south of St. Lawrence Island. Here’s another spot you can encounter polar bears at the right time under the right conditions. August and October are the perfect months to sight when the climate conditions are ideal for polar bears to make a visit to the land.
Yes, this is your last resort to view a polar bear. While we don’t exactly recommend viewing animals in confined spaces, this option is available.
The zoo homes one female polar bear who goes by the name of Cranberry. You can observe her movements from behind the safety glass for a considerable time, but we admit, it’s nothing like seeing them in their homely element.
Polar Bear 101
Polar bears look breathtaking – but these ice giants are hypercarnivore mammal species that carry the reputation of being the largest bear species, who also have shown signs of being calculated hunters.
Physical Features – I like thick fur and I cannot lie
Polar Bears actually have longer necks, with narrower heads compared to their other fellow bear species. They have white/pale yellowish fur, which is thick and a water-repellent layer of hair, which helps them deal with extreme cold weather conditions in both land and water.
The largest male polar bear can weigh about 771 kilograms (approx.) but the average adult male is recorded to be 545 kilograms (approx.) and adult females approx. 317 kilograms.
An average polar bear also has an average height of around 2.4 -3 meters and a life span of 18-25 years on average.
Habitat – Ice Walkers
Sea Ice is an important part of a polar bear’s habitat. They live, breed and hunt on these grounds.
This is why the deterioration of the sea ice due to global warming has made polar bears such an important discussion of climate topics.
Dietary – What’s on the menu?
Polar Bears’ main diet consists of ringed seals and other types of seals available in their hunting grounds, walrus and even beluga whales and at times even smaller mammals and vegetation.
How To Survive A Polar Bear Attack?
First – always arrange your tours with expert guides who know the landscape and the wildlife it homes, so you can avoid an attack altogether and enjoy Alaska in one piece (literally).
Remember – you can’t outrun a polar bear. They’re expert hunters and you’re on their turf. But they’re easily distracted. Wildlife experts actually advise to slowly (at first) back away while peeling off a clothing item at a time.
Yes, it sounds like a tease, but in most cases, polar bears stop to smell it, and toy with it, giving you time to pick up your pace.
Of course, there is the issue of you being buck naked in the icy cold or the Polar catching up to you. But these are your only chances.
Frequently Asked Questions
What other countries you can find Polar Bears in?
Russia, Greenland, Norway (Svalbard) and Canada
Do polar bears hunt humans?
Humans are not on top of their menu, but under severe conditions, they can actively hunt and kill humans.
What is the best defence against a polar bear?
Most experts will advise any travellers to carry a bear spray, it’s said to be 98% effective.
Is it illegal to hunt Polar Bears – even with a permit?
Yes – it’s illegal, and we highly condemn it. However, according to Alaskan Law, only natives are legally allowed, and wasteful killing is not tolerated.
Any person who isn’t a native Indian, Aleut or Eskimo cannot legally participate in form of polar bear hunting.
Can Polar bears be spotted in Alaska during summer?
Most polar bears are more abundantly found along the edge of the Arctic Ocean and the Chukchi Sea, near ice packs.