A few years ago, the ecologist Robert Rockwell began publishing studies showing that some polar bears living in the western Hudson Bay were looking beyond sea mammals for food, eating berries, birds, eggs, and other land plants and animals. In a 2012 cover story for this magazine, Rockwell posed a question: Could eating land-based foods help polar bears deal with climate change? This April, a team of scientists published a review concluding that terrestrial foods are unlikely to help polar bears survive a longer summer healthfully. According to Karyn Rode, the wildlife scientist who led the review, the substitutes are “low quality and low abundance.” Rode and Rockwell agree that more studies are needed.
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