The 5 Most Endangered Arctic Animals and How You Can Help
We are reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn affiliate commission.
Conversations around climate change are more prevalent than ever, as we’re starting to see the effects impact Earth.
While it’s easy to see how climate change is affecting the areas we live and work in, it’s harder to notice the impact on creatures that humans are rarely near.
The truth is climate change is threatening the existence of several arctic animals that, without intervention, could lead to ecocide.
Here are the top five most endangered arctic animals and tips on how to help them.
5. Bowhead Whales
The bowhead whale is a baleen whale that spends most of its time in the Arctic.
These black and white beauties are powerful and can get up to 91 tons in weight. Bowhead whales are associated with ice floes, making the melting and freezing of ice critical to their movements.
The bowhead whale is the only whale species that remain in the arctic region year-round, where they feed on zooplankton. Without a dorsal fin, these whales were a mystery to scientists for a while, only seeing them well when they used their incredibly strong heads to break through the ice.
Bowhead whales aren’t considered threatened but are currently considered a vulnerable species that could be considered near-threatened on the IUCN endangered species list, thanks to climate change.
Since these whales may be the oldest mammals on the planet, their possible endangerment is of great concern.
4. Arctic Wolves
Also known as the white wolf or polar wolf, the arctic wolf is a subspecies of the grey wolf that lives in the arctic regions of Canada and Greenland.
Their gorgeous white coats allow them to camouflage while hunting prey like caribou and arctic hares. Adapted to the harshest conditions, these wolves live in peace in caves or outcrops.
This species is not yet considered near-threatened on the criteria of endangered species, but scientists are concerned. Thanks to their location, these wolves don’t face as many threats as their relatives. However, climate change could soon interrupt their lives of peace and solitude.
3. The Arctic Fox
The arctic fox is an adorable hunter that stays inland in the arctic hemisphere and spends days hunting smaller animals, expanding its den and exploring the tundra.
Also known as white, polar and snow foxes, these amazing animals have fur that changes color based on the season. From brown when the ground is exposed to bright white when it snows, these animals are masters at camouflaging to avoid predators and sneak up on prey.
In the 1920s, the arctic fox nearly faced ecocide when hunters went after their fur. Government restrictions have thankfully reduced that risk, but they once again face endangerment.
On the cusp of being considered near-threatened, there is much cause for concern. These beautiful creatures are an essential part of their ecosystem.
2. Beluga Whales
Possibly the most adorable whale out there, beluga whales are incredibly social animals that hunt and migrate together in pods from arctic to subarctic regions and back.
These near-threatened whales are very expressive, using a variety of sounds and their bulbous forehead to communicate with one another. Its combination of chirps and clicks has earned the beluga the title “canary of the sea.”
Belugas are cousins of the narwhal, with the two species being the only ones in the Monodontidae family.
These highly-intelligent whales are now at risk from various sources, including pollution and climate change.
1. Polar Bears
It might not be surprising that polar bears are the most endangered arctic animals, classified as vulnerable on the IUCN list and considered threatened by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
The arctic’s number one predator, this majestic species, is the largest bear in the world. They spend most of their time on sea ice, making climate change a massive threat to them.
With sturdy white coats protecting them from the cold and offering camouflage, these bears spend around half their lives hunting for seals to enjoy. They leave the seals’ carcasses for creatures like the arctic fox to munch.
These might swimmers have long been a symbol of strength and resilience in the Arctic.
Unfortunately, the disappearance of sea ice is becoming a significant threat to these bears. Polar bears rely on sea ice to rest, hunt, mate and raise cubs. Without it, the bears could quickly face ecocide.
How You Can Help
The best ways to help these arctic animals are to reduce your carbon footprint and combat climate change.
You can do this in various ways, including reusing and recycling items, energy efficiency and purchasing local food.
Also, talk to your friends and family about helping the environment for these precious creatures. You can also support a non-profit that works to educate others and conserve arctic animal populations.
Protecting Arctic Animals
Arctic animals are wonderful creatures that face the impact of humans they aren’t even near.
We must take steps to protect these beautiful endangered arctic animals before we lose them forever.
Want more from Environment.co? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to receive our latest posts and exclusive content straight to your inbox.
About the author
Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.