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| Last Updated:06/02/2019

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Warming may lead to 30% drop in polar bear population

The planet's 26,000 remaining polar bears could see their population decline by 30% in the coming decades due to global warming and the continued melting of Arctic sea ice.

According to a report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) global warming is now the single biggest threat to the long-term survival of the polar bear as a species.

Polar bears live, breed and hunt on sea ice, but it's disappearing even faster than predicted. The IUCN says Arctic sea ice has been retreating at a rate of 14% per decade, from 1979 to 2011.

The longer the ice disappears for in the summer months, the longer the bears have to go without food. These extended fasts can cause reproductive problems and starvation. According to projections, some parts of the Arctic could be ice-free for up to five months of the year by the middle of the century.