WWF International

Arctic warming sees more polar bear populations threatened


Source: WWF International

The world’s top experts have just confirmed that Arctic warming is continuing its ravages of polar bear populations. The Polar Bear Specialist Group of the International Union of the Conservation of Nature has added to its list of declining polar bear populations.

“There is a disturbing downward trend apparent in world polar bear populations,” says Geoff York, polar bear coordinator for WWF International’s Arctic Programme. “In 2005, there were five declining populations – now there are eight. The experts have clearly identified climate change as the major culprit, but they are also optimistic that these trends can be reversed, given timely and effective action on greenhouse gas emissions.”

The main effect of warming on the bears is that their hunting is restricted by a lack of sea ice. The bears use the ice as a platform from which they can hunt seals, their favourite prey. Research has shown a definite link between the time the bears have to stay on land, and a decline in health, and in the numbers of cubs that survive.

At a meeting in Norway earlier this year, representatives of the countries that are home to polar bears agreed to refer the climate change problem to the UN-sponsored climate negotiations. WWF continues to push those countries to live up to the treaty they signed in 1973, obliging them to protect polar bear habitat.

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