Polar Bears Use Chunks of Ice and Rocks to Bludgeon Walruses While Hunting, New Studies Show

by Shelby Scott

Polar bears are one of the species’ most interesting breeds. According to new data, they are even more fascinating than anyone previously thought. One recent study found that the bears have taught themselves to use tools in obtaining hard-to-access food sources. The case found that for centuries, they’ve been using rocks and chunks of ice to bludgeon walruses prior to attacking.

Historically, tales of the polar bear bludgeoning prey, namely walruses, with ice chunks and rocks, were labeled just that: tales. However, the recent findings, published in the Journal of the Arctic Institute of North America, claim that they frequently use blunt objects to disable or disorient their prey.

According to the University of Alberta’s polar bear expert, Ian Stirling, “the fact that there were so many of these kinds of reports, and [that] they were all really quite basically similar, indicated that there was something out there that might be worth looking at.”

The study confirmed the bears’ habits. Stirling cross-referenced documents detailing Inuit hunting stories with legitimate cases of the animals developing critical thinking skills in captivity. A major example that confirmed the Inuit stories took place in a Japanese zoo, featuring a polar bear named GoGo. Zookeepers hung fresh meet above the polar bear’s enclosure and observed him using various “tools” to access the food. Those methods include hitting the suspended meat with a stick (much like a piñata). They also included throwing objects at it to try and knock it down.

Therefore, these skills and habits prove there’s a good chance these unique creatures do bludgeon walruses prior to attacking.

Polar Bears Adjust and Overcome

The most recent scientific study proved that polar bears attain critical thinking skills and logical habits in obtaining food. However, the animals have also developed and acted upon other innovations.

Because of the rapid increase in climate change within the last few decades, polar bears have steadily encountered endangerment. Should the polar caps continue to melt, there’s no doubt they face the threat of extinction. Currently, however, the animals’ natural homes are steadily disappearing. As a result, they have found other ways to overcome threats surrounding their species.

In response to climate change, they began moving inland to warmer climates as early as 2006. As a result, the polar bear encountered the northern residing grizzly bears, which led to crossbreeding. The combined creatures resulted in what the scientific community deemed as the “pizzly bear.”

As ridiculous as the name may sound, the evolution of the pizzly bear may help protect polar bears from complete extinction. By breeding with grizzly bears, polar bears may evolve into a species better suited to a diverse diet and resilient within various climates. Polar bears’ habitats solely include the arctic regions. However, grizzly bears populate regions as north as Alaska and as far south as Wyoming.

Overall, it appears the massive animals are adept at adapting and overcoming a variety of obstacles.