Heart-Breaking: Hungry Polar Bear Chews Plastic in Sweden’s Arctic

Heart-Breaking: Hungry Polar Bear Chews Plastic in Sweden's Arctic

This is the heartbreaking moment a hungry baby polar bear chews on some plastic in the Arctic, while two others play tug-of-war with a bin liner.

The harrowing photographs highlight the growing severity of plastic pollution as the cub certainly swallowed chunks whilst eating.

A pair of two-year-old sibling polar bear cubs were also playing tug-of-war with a black plastic bag they had found in the snow.

Another image shows one of the four-hundred-pound bears as it sat and ate the plastic like it was a meal.

Arctic expedition leader Jens Wikström, 30, from Gothenberg, Sweden, captured the shocking scenes at Lifdefjorden, Svalbard, Norway.

Mr Wikström, who has sailed for nine years, was appalled by the pollution, and watched in horror from 98 feet away as the mammals played with the plastic for 15 minutes.

He said: ‘Sights like this are devastating. It’s no secret we have a lot of pollution, but I was processing in real time what happens to our ecosystem when we don’t take care of our shit. It ends up in the bellies of these animals.

‘The kiddos went to the shoreline and dug up the snow to find this regular plastic bag. They started to rip it apart as a toy and ate a good chunk of it.

‘They play with anything they can possibly get their hands on.

‘On these remote islands of the Arctic, I’ve seen young curious bears and Arctic foxes eating the plastic pollution that often drifts ashore with the currents from the Arctic Ocean Northeast of Svalbard or with the Gulf Stream that come up from Europe.

‘I just hope people will think twice before leaving plastic bags or cigarette butts on the ground, you never know where it will end up.

‘It is also concerning that microplastics are affecting the food chain of fish and seals, so plastic is already getting into the polar bear’s diet as they predate on these.’

The polar bears are coping well in Svalbard despite the challenges of plastic pollution and climate changes and while they are likely to start exploring the villages where 2,600 people live, they were quite well fed.

Population surveys in 2017 suggested there are only 250 bears that roam the coastal region around Svalbard, where the photos were taken.

Despite this, many more may roam in the pack ice but are hard for humans to access.

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