In absence of sea ice, polar bears learn to eat duck eggs

January 24, 2012 

A polar bear family along Canada's Hudson Bay.

JONATHAN HAYWARD / AP FILE PHOTO

Polar bears in Arctic Canada appear to be compensating for disappearing sea ice -- from which they hunt seals -- by swarming onto near-shore islands and raiding eider duck nests, reports CBC News.

Bears have been feasting on the eggs which are laid on islands off the coast of South Baffin Island and Nunavik.

"Bears are extremely smart and adaptable, and once they arrive in these islands and eat the eider eggs they learn to swim to all the coastal islands. This last summer, for example, over 58 per cent of the islands we visited had been depredated by polar bears and we observed 22 different bears on this offshore island," said [Environment Canada scientist Grant] Gilchrist.

Last year, a tour group in the Russian Arctic watched a polar bear risk a fall from steep cliffs to reach bird eggs.

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