Scientists Puzzled To Why Alaska Polar Bears Are Losing Their Fur

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska polar bears are losing their fur and U.S. Geological Survey scientists don’t know why.

In the past two weeks, nine of 33 bears checked by scientists in the southern Beaufort Sea region near Barrow were found to have alopecia — loss of fur — and skin lesions, said Tony DeGange, chief of the biology office at the USGS Science Center in Anchorage.

Three of four bears inspected Thursday near Kaktovik showed the symptoms as well.

Scientists have been collecting blood and tissue samples from the afflicted bears, but they do not know the cause or the significance of the outbreak, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

“Our data set suggests that this is unusual but not unprecedented,” DeGange said. Ten of 48 bears checked by the team in 1998-99 had a similar condition, he said.

In a long-standing project, the USGS has sent polar bear research teams to the area since 1984. The teams track, sedate and examine the bears to help determine their general health and habits.

This year they saw their first bear with hair loss on March 21. The team will wind up this year’s operations in May when the sea ice becomes too treacherous for safe travel.

“We took biopsies in ’99 and couldn’t establish a causative agent for the hair loss then,” DeGange said. “But now we have this unexplained mortality event going on with seals. And they haven’t been successful in figuring out what caused the seal deaths. Is it just a matter of coincidence or is it related? We don’t know.”

In December, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared an “unusual mortality event” based on a number of ringed seals hauled out on beaches on the Arctic coast of Alaska during the summer. Dead and dying seals were found to have hair loss and skin sores.

Affected seals were later observed in Canada and Russia.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • tacobill

    It’s Bush’s fault.

    • Allah_speaking

      No, It’s Obama’s fault now… The blame Bush meme is both tired and antiquated..

    • ralpha1961

      Actually this is happening because the researchers who handle these animals are transmitting diseases like when the europeans first came to this country. These reaserchers probably take in a large amount of antiobotics to fend off numerous ailments.
      It is happening to bats, frogs and who knows what other animal that is being studied.

    • Martin Smith

      Whitehouse Press Release: We have assigned DWS (Debbie Whipsaw Schultz) to investigate this obvious case of Republicans trying to kill Polar Bears by depriving them of their fur. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson both refused to comment saying only ‘they are white so we don’t care what happens’ however we strongly suspect that this is being readied as a Republica attack on Black Bears in the Southern US and we will be there when they attack. DNC chair DWS says it is likely this is part of the war on females though they have attacked both male and female polar bears.

    • Laura

      It’s probably a chemical in the sedative they use to check the bears every year that builds up and eventually causes hair loss.

      • David

        LOL THIS is the best answer I have heard

    • Smokey the Bear

      Maybe it’s a made-up story, just like the mt. lion that attacked the old guy who got saved by a bear. Or like all the other made-up stories by CBS-locos. But if it is true, perhaps it’s because all animals lose their fur…it’s called “nature”.

      • Bob Roberts

        Every fall my cat grows a heavy coat. Every spring it sheds that coat. You’re right. It’s called “NATURE”.

      • Henry R Kneitz III

        They need to switch back to the old shampoo they were using before. My wife had the same problem. She was losing hair because of a new shampoo she was trying. She switched back and now she is fine.

      • Another 6 letter word for Felony... BARACK!

      • Kingfish

        could just be they are getting old, or have watched to much TV and seen all these guys shaving their heads, wait i know it’s global warming.

      • Reality Check

        Hair Clump Change.

        Another disaster movie in the making.

        Alert Al Gore. Al can fly one of his private jets up there and hold a press conference about the dangers of carbon pollution from things like private jets.

      • Minerva

        It’s nerves. All those paparazzi trying to get embarrassing or personal shots to ‘prove’ global warming.

    • SunnyR

      lol! You beat me to it!

    • Jon Lewis

      Dangit, you beat me to it

    • EYE

      Took the words right out of my mouth! LOL!

    • belle

      Perhaps is is nuclear fallout from Japan, ya think?

      • iknowshizzle


  • ChefJoey

    Japanese radiation fallout from Fukashima.

    • frgough

      Nope. Not enough radiation to cause hair loss.

    • Lucille

      Your right, this is the only thing they fail to check for? Or do not want to let people know that we are about to die the same way.

    • John English

      I think it was that someone waved a dead chicken or maybe centralized local gravity was to blame. I mean really, Polar Bears have been around for how many years. And in all that time this is the only time it has happened? If that is the case then Darwin was wrong. And by the way he is!

    • mjm

      Happily surprised not to see mentioned in the article, “global warming.

    • TJB
      • Marc M

        Written by idiots for idiots….

        Unreal people believe that.

    • Wilder Napalm`

      Thats my guess as well. Lord only knows what chemicals was washed out to sea.

      • Allah_speaking

        Quit bathing, that will definitely help whatever toxic chemicals you are carrying from entering the environment…

      • Kevin

        It’s hilarious watching you uneducated clones use your “media university” knowledge to make conlcusions… The only thing you know about this is what you have been fed by your extensive “media” learning…

        It’s not that you “wonder” what could have caused it. It’s that in your mind you think you actually have it figured, simply by the media stories and chit-chat with friends…

      • batman

        Is it “Moo-Chele” or Mooch-ele”?

      • Kingfish

        Hummm, maybe Moochell has been swimming with the whales.

    • Boomer


      That was exactly my first reaction, that it was probably radiation from the reactor, but then why was it also seen in 1999?

      • jasperddbagghost

        Oh noez! Global warming / cooling / pyramid scheme — quick give me all your money so I can uh….yeah….”save the earth”….. down with capitalism and all that…

        /sarcasm off.

      • Marc M

        Umm no…

        Do some research … jeez.

      • Boomer

        Oops! Make that “1998”

      • carriecanadian

        Underwater nuclear weapons testing.

    • Radiation Denial

      Your right, but I’m sure the left will blame it on CO2, (harmless gas that plants breath. But the Ice caps on Mars and 2 of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn are melting, I guess thats caused by our exhaust pipes too.

      • iknowshizzle

        Yup. Solar cycles. But since we are on the end of the hot cycle, they know they can’t feed us more hot climate global warming BS that it will take another 30yrs for the next hot cycle to begin. Next we are going to hear, “freak out everyone, the Global Cooling is coming!!!’

    • Bill in Tennessee

      Nope, it’s George Bush’s fault…man, what an EVIL dude to care so LITTLE for the polar bear. Just disgraceful.

  • Tim

    Maybe its from scientists molesting animals all the time…

    • Aunt JoMama

      So do those scientists molest the bears after they are asleep, or as they are waking up for a bit of a rush?

  • SniffnMahfats

    Solar maximum is the cause!

  • Jesusland

    If Liberals stopped driving their cars this wouldn’t be happening.

    • Alfred Hussein Neuman

      Like Obama says, “I blame George W Bush.”

  • TimP

    So USGS scientists can’t figure it out, it’s unusual but not unprecedented. It happened in 1998. They couldn’t find a causative agent then, and they can’t now.
    The hair loss or death of any animal on this planet is tragic.
    Perhaps, just perhaps, we should pour more tax dollars towards the USGS service.
    Maybe if they get just a bit more funding, they can find the cause of this sad event.

    • SirGareth

      Why is it “tragic?” What is “tragic” is that we have become a nation so dumb that we elect Marxist authoritarians to rule us when we should be ruling ourselves.

      Polar bears make lovely stew meat and its good to snuggle with your mate between two polar bear blankets.

      Animals are supposed to die; especially ones prone to diseases of the fur.

      • Derp

        It seems your sarcasm detector is in need of retuning.

      • RICH


      • star

        if we ruled ourselves you would be voted out – you know, because animals are suppose to die – just like you.

    • Wilson

      “Scientists Puzzled”. Oh no tell me it ain’t so.

      I would gladly support funding to send these guys to Africa to figure out why millions of kids are dying every year.

      Not the best gig in the world, but they could still take their helicopters and vintage wines with them.

  • lcky9

    oh please leave the Bears ..Seals AND other wildlife ALONE.. they have been living without sciences help for this long I am SURE they will continue to do so AFTER scientists LABEL them with some sort of disorder and put them on meds ..

  • philip

    wow I thought the bears were almost extinct, seems they had no trouble finding any.

  • LarryPTL

    I’m sure the global warming extremists will blame it on too much carbon dioxide. They’ve blamed everything else they can think of after their hoax over CO2 causing global warming was exposed.

  • iambicpentamaster

    The ursus maritimus (sea bear),
    Has been observed with a lack of hair,
    Their thinning fur,
    Has caused a stir,
    And it’s birthed a new name: Polar Bare.

    • ByteRider

      Someone get this kid a balloon….

  • Norbert G. Ginsel

    I smell a B-movie in the works.


    Coming soon to a theater near you.

  • noseitall

    Pollution of some sort from the Japanese earthquake & tsunami. How tough was that?

    • frgough

      You got more radiation the last time you walked past a granite countertop.

      • JP

        Yeah keep repeating that. It may become true if it’s repeated often enough.

    • Mrs. Oleary's Cow

      I disagree…I’ll bet Al Gore funded this study. Just wait, a new global warming hoax movie since he’s gotta keep the cash cow fed.

    • Mark

      According to the atricle, “Ten of 48 bears checked by the team in 1998-99 had a similar condition.”
      There was a Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 1998?

      Jump to conclusions often?

      • Mike

        remember that Fukushima is still leaking into the ocean and the main radioactive fallout already arrived here Stateside. People in Cali and up the west coast are getting sick, odd.

  • hostdude99

    What’s so mystifying? The fallout from Japan is starting to have an effect around the globe.

    • Debbie

      No kidding! Another year or so, people are going to start having lesions and their hair fall out too. I wonder what excuse they will make for that one? I live in So California and wont go to the beach anymore for that very reason. The radioactive garbage is supposed to wash up soon, yet no mainstream outlet reports it.

      • Ungreen

        Debbie, Debbie, Debbie; Come on girl! just admit it, You have put on a few pounds and the beach in a full bodied bathing suit is just not your kind of thing. Well, I have heard about this new diet called the So Diet. It guarantees a loss of 20 lbs a week. But of course a good deal of that is attributed to loss of hair and skin. However the good part is that you will probably be back in your bikini in three or four days. So swim away girl.

      • Kingfish

        Zombies, holy cow..

  • Cat in the Hat

    The Polar Bears have heard that the GOP causes global warming, and are having stress induced hair loss. This is nature’s way to be more aquadynamic when they have to swim where they once walked. Normal hair counts will return once a Republican gains the White House and the lies of global warming will “cool down”. They can’t bear it anymore!

  • Rusty Chains

    They’re allergic to the scientists and/or the tranquilizer.

  • Damon Taylor

    Global warming probably causes the polar bear to have adverse dermatological reactions to repeated doses of tranqualizers. Damn barbaric conservatives and their incandescent plastic warmongering fox news SUVs!

  • wingside

    It bears mentioning this is a samle of bearly .o1% of all the bears in Alaska and does not include any of the bears living within the Bering Strait.

  • mikelorrey

    Clearly a bunch of mangy tree huggers with hair lice have spent too much time harassing Polar Bears for their vital signs, and spread their parasites to the new hosts. The only stress the bears are under is a growing addiction to tranquilizers.

    • Kingfish

      Can’t you just see them all sitting around a campfire taking turns with the LSD.

      • star

        pretty sure that’s where you are now

  • ByteRider

    They have the polar bear version of mange. Maybe they accidentally rubbed up against a liberal…

    • Cat in the Hat

      lmfao! Hey little fella! Let me give you a hug…..

  • old farmer

    This shouldn’t be taken lightly. However the seals are dying and the bears are only reported to be going bare. Why was the lead the bears? The bears seem to always get better press than other creatures from the enviro’s and the way this is presented is suspect.
    Are other creatures showing signs of stress? These animals are heavy consumers of fish are fish dying is high numbers? Fish usually don’t mess around. They don’t bother getting sick, they just proceed to die. There is no mention of other creatures of the area. Do bears normally shed towards spring?
    This story seems about half Alaska Baked. Who is making this report?

    • Ungreen

      Hey old farmer, the seals are black and the polar bears are white. What more do you need to know?

      • star

        i thought seattle was a ‘green’ state –
        d/ass polar bears have black skin
        read more
        talk less
        don’t reproduce

  • jimmy

    Bear AIDS?

  • glenn_terry

    So what?
    Obama iis about to lose his ass!!
    No, not Moochlle;s free ride..
    I Can’t wait until the election.

  • JohnFLob

    OH NO! Now each of them will truely be Polar Bare.

  • tamalezebra

    Maybe it’s just old age.

  • baldbear

    Nobody checked MY ALOPECIA! Unless you are a bear you don’t matter.

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