Are polar bears becoming the real bad news bears? Today, Defenders released a new report that takes a look at the status of polar bears in Alaska and the ongoing threats posed by climate change. But while the world’s only marine bear is in serious trouble, the report, Sea Bear Under Siege: Polar Bears and Climate Change in Alaska offers a list of actions that – if undertaken soon – could be the key to saving this Arctic icon.
Karla Dutton, Alaska director for Defenders of Wildlife said, “Warming temperatures are devastating key polar bear habitat. The alarming loss of Arctic sea-ice has negative implications for every aspect of the bears’ lives, from hunting seals to raising cubs. Without help, climate change could be the final straw for the animals in Alaska. As the marine bears turn increasingly to land, our response must be quicker and more ambitious than ever.
“In addition to working to reduce greenhouse gas pollution responsible for climate change, Defenders is exploring measures to keep both polar bears and Alaskans safe as the loss of sea-ice forces the marine mammals farther inland. This includes developing polar-bear-resistant food-lockers for Alaska Native communities, and considering supplemental and diversionary feedings of bears to prevent conflict with humans as bears search for food on land. With bold action, we can prevent polar bears from disappearing from U.S. shores.”
The report, Sea Bear Under Siege: Polar Bears and Climate Change in Alaska, offers an extensive list of actions, among them banking polar bear DNA, supplemental feedings of starving bears and bear-resistant food storage, that should be undertaken to assist these Arctic marine animals. Several of these recommendations are particularly relevant now, as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — the most important onshore denning site for polar bears — celebrates its 50th anniversary and prepares for the future.
With bold action, we can prevent polar bears from disappearing from U.S. shores.