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Wildlife on the BrinkAlaska : Polar Bear
Polar BearSpecies Gallery

Polar Bear
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ursus maritimus

STATUS: Proposed for threatened status

HABITAT: Primarily coastal sea ice

LIFE HISTORY: One of the lowest reproduction rates among mammals; females rear cubs for three years. Bears roam an average of 5,500 miles annually.

THREATS: Habitat loss due to global warming; oil and gas exploration; overhunting; toxic contamination

RANGE: Circumpolar

CURRENT POPULATION: 2,000 to 3,000 in U.S.; global population 20,000 to 25,000

The polar bear's Arctic home was once untouched by humans, but now their habitat has become a striking indicator of global warming.
These beautiful, massive bears are strong swimmers, but they need terra firma (in the form of sheets of sea ice) on which to hunt seals, sleep and find mates. Scientists predict that Arctic summers could be ice-free by the middle of this century-without sea ice, polar bears cannot survive. In response to a petition and lawsuit filed by NRDC, the Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace, the federal government has formally proposed listing the polar bear as a "threatened" with extinction under the Endangered Species Act. NRDC members and other concerned activists have submitted more than 500,000 comments in support of the proposal. The administration will make a final decision on the listing by January 9, 2008.
Polar Bear SOS
Photos: Alaska © PhotoDisc; polar bear © Steve Amstrup, Alaska Image Library, USFWS; spectacled eider © Chris Dau, Alaska Image Library, USFWS; beluga whale © Corbis; yellow-billed loon © Getty Images
Feature Home Print Version Alaska Northwest California Rockies/Prairie Southwest Midwest Southeast Northeast Hawaii International Polar Bear Spectacled Eider Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Yellow-Billed Loon

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