Study Shows Polar Bears Are Shrinking

08.25.09 | FL News Team

(London)  --  Polar bears are shrinking.  The BBC reports a new study looking at polar bear skulls shows the bears were up to nine-percent smaller at the latter half of the 20th century than they were in the first half.

Scientists say the reduction in size could be due to stress, including pollution and a reduction in sea ice.  It's also believed that environmental changes are leading to a scarcity in the areas where polar bears hunt.  That means the bears have to burn more energy to find them.

Another reason for the shrinking polar bears could be hunting.  Scientists think hunting could have depleted the polar bear gene pool, leading to inbreeding.  The study appears in the "Journal of Zoology."