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Oil company watches over pregnant polar bear under bridge

By Associated Press 11:41 AM May 19, 2017

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – A pregnant polar bear in search of a spot for her maternity den chose an unlikely one: along a bridge leading to an artificial production island off the north coast of Alaska.

The den was spotted by an oil company security officer in December. Hilcorp Alaska then restricted access along the causeway in hopes of a peaceful pregnancy.

Fish and Wildlife Service supervisory biologist Christopher Putnam says polar bears have a high mortality rate in their first year of life and disturbance of a den can lead to a mother abandoning her cub.

Polar bears are listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act because climate warming is melting their primary habitat, sea ice.

Their efforts worked.

The bear – and her cub – emerged from the den March 18. They lingered two weeks then headed out to hunt for seals on the ice.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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