No Time to Lose: We Must Do Everything We Can to Save Polar Bears

polar bear (USFWS, Photo by G Kramer)In a sobering announcement, top Russian polar bear scientists are now predicting that polar bears could completely disapear from the Russian arctic within the next twenty-five years:

“It is worse for Russian polar bears than the bears in Canada or Greenland because the pack ice is retreating much faster in our waters,” said Nikita Ovsyannikov, deputy director of Russia’s polar bear reserve on Wrangel Island in the Chukchi Sea northwest of Alaska. “The best habitat is quickly disappearing. It is extreme."

This makes it all the more important that we do everything we can to give polar bears in Canada--very likely the last place on earth that will see significant sea coverage persist over the relatively long-term--the best fighting chance they have to survive.  That means relieving other stresses on the population, particularly high hunting quotas driven by commerical trade. 

Luckily, the United States, supported by the Russian Federation, has proposed to end the international commercial trade in polar bear parts under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). 

Today's news is all the more reason to proceed agressively with curbing this harmful commercial trade.

About the Authors

Andrew Wetzler

Deputy Chief Program Officer

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