02/24/2017 09:54 EST | Updated 02/25/2018 00:12 EST

Survey finds two High Arctic polar bear populations stable

Polar bears in two High Arctic populations seem to be doing better than scientists feared.

The first major study of the Baffin Bay and Kane Basin populations in about 20 years have found more bears than expected.

There are an estimated 3,300 bears in the two regions, significantly more than population models predicted.

But the study also found bears in the Baffin Bay area to be in poorer shape than they used to be.

As sea ice declines, those bears spend about a month more on land than they used to, limiting their ability to hunt their favourite diet of fat-rich seals.

The study also found female Baffin Bay bears are spending less time in maternity dens and that the survival of newborn cubs is declining, while the smaller Kane Basin population is at least stable and may be increasing.