Polar Bear
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Basic Information

The polar bear is a large bear found in the Arctic Circle noted for it's striking white fur. It spends most of it's time on the sea ice and hunts seals. Because of this, it is extremely vulnerable to changes in the polar icecap and is presently considered an endangered animal, although current trends appear to be positive with a 3-5 fold increase in the population over the last fifty years and apparent stability for the time being.

Some communities hold annual events called "polar bear plunges" on New Years Day or other occasions during the winter in which participants will enter nearby bodies of water and try not to freeze. No real polar bears are harmed during these events.

Actual interaction between humans and polar bears tends to be far less enjoyable; large, aggressive and not at all afraid of humans the polar bear is known to enter human communities all over the arctic circle where they will feed on rubbish, unattended food, domestic pets and people pretty much indiscriminately. Due to their swimming abilities and tendency to roam over large areas, such bear intrusions are hard to predict and prevent.

The polar bear - known as nanuk or nannook1 - is culturally significant to the aboriginal peoples that share its range. Which is not really all that surprising. As a large, anthropophagous predator it tends towards something of an awe/fear sort of relationship, although most native populations are quite happy to repay the -phagy if given the chance. Where humans shared range with both the polar and brown bears, polar bear teeth were used as amulets against brown bear attack - presumably on the principle that the brown bear would give a wide berth to someone who had apparently already killed a much larger and more powerful predator.

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