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Polar Bears and Indigenous People: Traditional Knowledge and Coexistence


Indigenous peoples of the Arctic have developed a rich body of traditional knowledge (TK) over generations, often referred to as "TEK" (Traditional Ecological Knowledge). This knowledge deeply explains polar bear ecology, ice dynamics, weather patterns, and the broader Arctic ecosystem. It serves as a vital tool for coexisting with these apex predators:

  • 1. Bear Behavior and Tracking:

    Indigenous communities possess a unique understanding of polar bear behavior, allowing them to predict bear movements and take precautions when necessary. They can track bears by interpreting signs such as paw prints, scat, and body language.

  • 2. Climate Wisdom:

    Indigenous peoples' TEK includes insights into changing ice conditions, weather patterns, and the effects of warming temperatures on polar bear behavior and habitat.

  • 3. Ice Safety:

    Indigenous communities are skilled in navigating the treacherous sea ice, ensuring their safety while traveling and hunting on the frozen ocean.