© Deborah Albert

Polar bear

Majestic creature of the far north, the polar bear is the world's largest terrestrial carnivore. Its Latin name, Ursus maritimus, means 'sea bear': an apt name for this amazing species which spends much of its life in, around, or on the water - predominantly on the sea ice.

Why is the polar bear so important?

Large carnivores - those that are at the apex or top of the food chain - are particularly sensitive indicators of the health of an ecosystem. Polar bears help us gain an understanding of what is happening throughout the Arctic.

All recent indicators show that sea ice in the Arctic is melting at an alarming rate, a problem that needs to be addressed immediately if polar bears, and other species unique to the region, are to survive.

Polar bear facts

  • scientific name
    Ursus maritimus
  • weight
    352 - 680 kg
  • length
    2 - 3 m
  • population
    22,000 - 31,000 polar bears worldwide
  • status

Follow in the footsteps of polar bears

With the help of polar bear researchers, WWF is following polar bears' travels in the Arctic.

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What WWF is doing for polar bears

WWF is working around the Arctic to secure a future for polar bears.

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How we work

Addressing human-wildlife conflict

WWF's global work to reduce human-wildlife conflict is based in our Netherlands office.

Innovating in polar bear research

WWF catalyzes innovation. From extracting DNA from snowy pawprints to supporting tests of infrared camera systems for counting polar bears, WWF works to increase efficiency, reliability, and cost effectiveness of Arctic research.

Preventing polar bear conflict in Canada

In the community of Arviat, WWF supports a polar bear patrol and pilot projects with food storage containers, solar-powered electric fencing and diversionary feeding stations.

Preventing polar bear conflict in Greenland

Since 2015, Greenland’s first polar bear patrol has worked through the polar bear migration season to keep the community of Ittoqqortoormiit safe. Each morning the polar team patrols the community on ATVs, using deterrence measures to frighten bears away. WWF also guides the community and government on improving polar bear safety.

Preventing polar bear conflict in Russia

Since 2006, polar bear patrols have been operating with the support of WWF-Russia. The patrols conduct polar bear monitoring and research; and protect villages from polar bears and prevent human - wildlife conflict.

Protecting polar bears across borders

WWF addresses conservation of polar bears at the local, national, and international levels. We support community initiatives such as polar bear patrols and contribute to planning and implementing range-wide conservation plans.

Reducing polar bear conflict in Alaska

Along the northern coast of Alaska, WWF supports several active polar bear patrols and education programs.

Reducing polar bear conflict on Svalbard,Norway

Svalbard is a hotspot for polar bear tourism - and conflict. The local government is working with organizations like WWF, scientists and the tourist sector to find the best methods for managing conflict.

Supporting polar bear research on Svalbard

WWF is supporting Norwegian scientists on Svalbard who are researching the local polar bear population.

Surveying polar bears in Western Hudson Bay

WWF supports polar bear surveys using an innovative mark-recapture technique that does not require tranquilising the bears.


The Circle 01.2022
The Circle 01.2022
17 January 2022
The Circle 02.21
The Circle 02.21
21 June 2021
The Circle 01.21
The Circle 01.21
8 April 2021
The Circle 03.20
The Circle 03.20
5 October 2020
The Circle 02.20
The Circle 02.20
30 June 2020
The Circle 02.19
The Circle 02.19
13 June 2019
See all 18 publications

Meet the team


Senior Advisor, Arctic and marine


Project Coordinator


Advisor, Nature Conservation – WWF Netherlands


Managing Director, Species Conservation Program


Senior Program Officer, Arctic Wildlife


Senior specialist, Arctic species & ecosystems

WWF Arctic Coordinating Team

Senior Specialist, Arctic species


Unit Head, Forests & Wildlife – WWF-Netherlands


Coordinator, Arctic Biodiversity Conservation Projects