Goose Eggs Could Save Polar Bears
Polar bears could survive extinction despite many starving to death in coming years, according to scientists and other observers who have discovered that some of the bears have found a new food source — goose and duck eggs.
The eggs could be coming in part from a rebounding goose population in the Hudson Bay area, feeding polar bears whose icy habitat in the Arctic is melting, one new study finds.
In recent years, much of the sea ice that polar bears use as a hunting platform for seal meals has melted, forcing some bears — particularly young males — farther north or onto land, where they are not as adept at hunting. When stuck on land for months, a polar bear typically is forced to survive on its own fat reserves.
The bears were listed earlier this year as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act as populations have declined.
Meanwhile, snow geese are thriving near the western Hudson Bay, and researchers say there are in fact too many of them. Their eggs can be a good food source, researchers report in the online version of the journal Polar Biology. The geese nest on tundra that some bears have retreated to.
"Over 40 years, six subadult male bears were seen among snow goose nests, and four of them were sighted after the year 2000," says Robert Rockwell, an ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History and a biology professor at City University of New York's City College. "I've seen a subadult male eat eider duck eggs whole or press its nose against the shell, break it, and eat the contents."
(cont'd on site)