Changes in sea ice habitat will increase polar bear encounters, Alaska scientists say

Alaska scientists say the chances of a polar bear encounter have increased after research reveals the bears are arriving at the shore earlier and staying on land longer.

The Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday that scientists a part of the U.S. Geological Survey found changes in sea ice habitat have coincided with evidence that polar bears' use of land is increasing.

Biologists say the bears come from the Beaufort Sea during the ice melt season when the ice breaks up in the summer and refreezes in the fall.

Scientists say the bears usually appear in mid-August, but residents have reported sightings as early as May in Kaktovik, a small-populated town about 640-miles north of Anchorage.

Scientists say the ice melt season has increased substantially since the late 1990s.