(Cold Bay, Alaska) Warming temperatures in polar regions are causing an increasing number of polar bears to collapse from heat exhaustion, local hunters report.
Jeremiah Johnson, a local hunter who tracks and kills polar bears "because they are there" has seen three of the behemoths collapse before him in just the last month. "It just isn't sporting to shoot one of these creatures when they are suffering like this", Johnson said as he recounted his attempts to revive a bear he was ready to shoot.
Local TV meteorologist Sky McCloud explained, "Average annual temperatures in the area have risen from 20 degrees below zero to 15 below zero in the last 30 years, and these giant creatures simply can not withstand the excess heat."
Bear researchers concur with McCloud. Dr. Phillip Slander, of the University of Alaska's Wildlife Health and Comfort Department, said "People don't realize how much heat stress these temperatures put on polar bears. The bears are increasingly being seen taking dips in the ocean in their attempts to cool off."
Researchers believe that it is only a matter of time before polar bears are pushed to the brink of extinction. "Ten degrees below zero seems to be the generally agreed tipping point", said McCloud. "Once average temperatures reach this level for several days in a row, the bears start dropping like flies."
Dr. Slander recounted a recent incident in which a polar bear attacked a local homeless man, and had devoured only a small part of the man's body before collapsing from exhaustion. "Because of global warming, the bears' normal way of life is changing rapidly..it's tragic."
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