Climate Change Will Kill Off The Polar Bears, Feds Warn

FWS officials warned everyone that the fate of polar bears will be determined by "our willingness and ability to address climate change".

The footage captures a bear's-eye-view of the world as the female plods across the ice, chows down on a seal, has a play fight with another polar bear and swims in the ocean.

The department announced its plan to help protect and ensure the survival of the polar bear population, including habitat protection, reducing oil spill contamination, and reducing conflicts between bears and humans. While the state agrees with Fish and Wildlife, regarding their assessment on greenhouse gas emissions eventually changing the Arctic landscape, they say it's hard to recover something that hasn't declined yet.

Polar bears are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The service acknowledged, according to the Post, that "short of action that effectively addresses the primary cause of diminishing sea ice, it is unlikely that polar bears will be recovered".

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature pegs the polar bear population at between 22,000 and 31,000, which she called "the highest estimate in 50 years".

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The agency's final Polar Bear Conservation Management Plan, released today and approved by FWS Alaska Regional Director Gregory Siekaniec, lays out management goals as well as conservation and recovery actions for two subpopulations of polar bears found primarily in Alaska.

However, the issue is out of the hands of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This area is the habitat for polar bear populations, meaning that deterioration of the polar ice caps has repercussions directly with the species' life expectations.

The image has become a symbol of climate change's devastating effect on Arctic wildlife populations, and as the USA government confirmed Monday, the devastation is all too real.

Elisabeth Kruger, Arctic program officer for the World Wildlife Fund, said in a statement that the plan "addresses the things we need to consider in near term and rightly highlights that climate change mitigation is the most important action needed to secure polar bear populations". Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity, called it "toothless". He has also promised to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement ― a move that could ultimately seal the polar bear's fate.

Polar bears were listed as endangered in 2008 by Dirk Kempthorne, the Interior secretary under then-President George W. Bush, amid the alarming loss of summer sea ice in recent decades and climate models indicating the trend would continue. They can go for months without eating but in late spring gorge on ice seals, especially ringed seals, when those animals give birth in snow caves dug on sea ice. In the end, the polar bear's viability will ultimately come down to how aggressively our planet addresses the climate crisis.

  • Toni Ryan