Cannibalism among polar bears is on the rise and scientists believe food scarcity due to climate change and increased human disturbance may be at the root of the issue.
The issue is affecting animals in the Arctic, where abnormally warm weather is causing the ice to melt. Compounding the issue is that more people are working in the Arctic and areas that were once prime hunting ground for polar bears are now busy routes for ships, The Guardian noted.
Polar bear expert Ilya Mordvintsev expressed concern over the increase in cases of polar bears killing and eating each other.
"Cases of cannibalism among polar bears are a long-established fact, but we're worried that such cases used to be found rarely while now they are recorded quite often," said Mordvintsev, a senior researcher at the Severtsov Institute of Problems of Ecology and Evolution in Moscow.
"In some seasons there is not enough food and large males attack females with cubs," he continued.
There also has been more human activity in the Arctic. Previously, scientists gathering information mostly occupied the area, but now oil workers and Russian Defense Ministry employees are arriving and eroding the polar bears' habitat. The Gulf of Ob is a prime example of this.
"The Gulf of Ob was always a hunting ground for the polar bear. Now it has broken ice all year round," Mordvintsev said. In addition, the extraction of active gas on the Yamal peninsula and the launch of an Arctic liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant has further aggravated the matter.
Researchers have noted that melting ice due to climate change is forcing polar bears to leave their hunting grounds in search of food. Dozens have relocated to areas in the Arctic where humans now live to raid trash dumps.
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