Polar bears are not native to Iceland. However, they are rarely but occasionally known to drift down to Iceland on ice floes from locations farther north. In recent decades, there has been a notable increase in polar bear sightings in Iceland. Polar bears, called Ice Bears as translated from Inuit languages, spend their winters on sea ice, where they enjoy a diet of seal meat, which is extremely high in fat. As sea ice has declined during summer and the shoulder seasons in recent decades, polar bears have suffered as a species from this loss in favored habitat.
Polar bear sightings in Iceland are still quite rare, as in one every few years or so, but the increase is a concern because Icelandic people are not used to large, hungry, predatory animals weighing a thousand pounds or more. Polar bears are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature due to habitat loss from increasing Arctic commercial activity and climate change.