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Robust polar bear population found between Alaska and Russia, according to UW study

Polar bear

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A population study of polar bears in the Chukchi Sea between Alaska and Russia finds that the population is thriving for now despite a loss of sea ice because of climate change.

Lead author Eric Regehr of the University of Washington says the study estimates nearly 3,000 Chukchi bears.

He says they may be buffered from some effects of ice loss that have stressed bears elsewhere around the world.

Research by the U.S. Geological Survey previously indicated Chukchi polar bears have almost 30 fewer days to hunt on ice.

Regehr says polar bears can build fat reserves and the Chukchi’s abundant seal population may allow bears to compensate for the loss of hunting time.

The United States listed polar bears as threatened in 2008.