Polar bears are considered a Vulnerable species. Because of their remote habitat, it can be difficult to estimate how many polar bears there currently are, as they live in areas where humans cannot easily access. It is believed there are currently between around 20,000 to 30,000 bears.
The biggest danger to polar bear populations is climate change. Sea ice is melting at an accelerated rate, which means that the polar bear is losing much of its key habitat and hunting grounds. Melting sea ice also requires polar bears to swim longer distances in search of food, which depletes their stores of energy. Climate change also drives polar bears into areas such as garbage dumps that are in closer proximity to humans, which is dangerous to both people and bears. While a well-fed polar bear will usually ignore humans, a hungry bear can be very dangerous and unpredictable.
Pollution and oil spills are also harmful to polar bear populations. They have also been vulnerable to overhunting by humans.
While some people have argued that polar bears are not threatened because population estimates have risen over the last 50 years, this is somewhat misleading. Early estimates of polar bear populations were largely based on tales from explorers, rather than scientific research. Limiting the hunting of bears also led to an increase in their numbers. However, it is unquestionable that climate change has had a negative effect on these animals.