A starving polar bear on its last legs was caught on new video by a conservation group that believes climate change may be to blame. The gaunt bear, barely able to walk, was such a disturbing sight that it left the crew of Sea Legacy in tears.
“We stood there crying—filming with tears rolling down our cheeks,” photographer Paul Nicklen said. He and the crew wer visiting the Baffin Islands in late summer, when they came across the heartbreaking scene.
The polar bear is barely able to walk because of muscle atrophy, yet he continues to scrounge for food. He rummages through a trashcan used by Inuit fishers and comes across an old snowmobile seat. He finds nothing to eat and lies down on the ground exhausted and on his deathbed.
Nicklen and his crew has been asked why they didn’t intervene since posting the video.
“Of course, that crossed my mind,” said Nicklen. “But it’s not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat.”
Polar bears eat hundreds of pounds of seal meat in a matter of a few days and the conservationists simply did not have the food that would save the bear’s life in time. It would also only have prolonged his misery.
Nicklen’s colleague, who was interviewed by CBC’s ‘As It Happens’, also points out that it is illegal to feed wild polar bears in Canada. They could do nothing but watch him and record the video so that the world could see what is happening to the majestic animals, often envisioned as fierce and unstoppable.
“When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death,” said Nicklen. “This is what a starving bear looks like.”
Polar bears hunt for seals on sea ice, but with sea ice melting and winters warming and summer months extending, the half-ton bears aren’t finding enough food to eat to carry them through the leaner months in summer.
Watch the heart-wrenching video below.
And listen to an interview of one of the Sea Legacy crew about the emotional encounter.