Plan to Save Polar Bears
US wildlife authorities released on Monday, 9 December, a broad plan to try to save Arctic polar bears from going extinct, as global warming melts away their icy habitat at an increasing pace.
With just 22,000 to 31,000 polar bears estimated to be left in the world, the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Polar Bear Conservation Management Plan calls for a series of actions to save these iconic creatures.
Above all, it calls for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, which arise from the burning of fossil fuels and contribute to a warming climate. The plan also calls for reducing conflicts between humans and bears, along with protecting their habitat and minimising the risk of contamination from oil spills.
Close management is urged for polar bear hunting, or a practice known as “subsistence harvest” that is legal for indigenous people and involves killing less than 4% of the bear’s total population per year.
Polar bears were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2008 because of the loss of sea-ice habitat. Since then, conditions in the Arctic have deteriorated due to global warming. The area of the Arctic covered by sea ice in October and November 2016 was the lowest on record for that period.