Five years ago polar bears were officially protected under the Endangered Species Act. This listing was a large victory for the Center of Biological Diversity, and the culmination of many years of work. Unfortunately, their original efforts were not enough. Polar bears are still dying. Scientists predict that without help, two-thirds of the world’s population of polar bears could be gone by 2050.
The good news: it’s not too late. The Center’s new report outlines five steps of action that will ensure polar bears have a future. To gain the political support required to take these steps, all they need is your voice.
- Sign the petition at SaveThePolarBear.org to encourage President Barack Obama to take immediate action to halt the climate crisis
- Read the Center for Biological Diversity’s report, On Thin Ice
Why It Matters
Polar bears live in the ice-covered waters of the Arctic. They rely on the sea ice for hunting and feeding, finding mates and breeding, long-distance migration, and accessing maternity dens. Bear distribution depends on the availability of food as well as the sea ice conditions. Areas of open water surrounded by ice are sites of increased mammal and bird concentrations and are extremely important to polar bear activity.
The report issued this month by the Center for Biological Diversity shows that polar bears face even greater threats today than they did in 2008, when they were listed as “threatened” on the endangered species list. Polar bears risk starvation and drowning as they are forced to swim farther to reach solid ice. Many are trapped on land and end up seeking food near villages which often results in them being shot. The drilling for oil and gas has reduced their habitat and led to environmental contaminants such as industrial noise and harassment from increased arctic shipping. An estimated 800 bears are killed each year by hunting in the Canadian Arctic.
On May 15, the Center issued a formal notice to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act. They maintain that despite new evidence that the bears’ status has declined enough to deserve an “endangered” listing, the Service has not conducted a required review of threats to polar bears. Furthermore, the Obama administration has yet to develop a recovery plan for polar bears and refuses to protect them from greenhouse gas pollution.
Kassie Siegel, director of the Center’s Climate Law Institute, believes that unless plans are made to protect the species, polar bears may face extinction. “As climate change burns away Arctic sea ice, these magnificent animals teeter on the brink of oblivion,” stated Siegel, in a recent press release. “Our government has to cut the greenhouse gas pollution that’s warming the Arctic and driving polar bears off the planet — and it has to act now.”
It doesn’t have to be over for the polar bear. Please sign the petition to obtain increased protections for these great animals of the North.