Because of Arctic warming that has caused a significant loss of habitat due to melting sea ice; polar bears have been included under the Endangered Species Act since 2008.
The report, which is part of the agency’s plan for the carnivorous animal, says that about a third of polar bears could be in danger because of greenhouse gas emissions.
Igor Polyakov, a climate change expert and professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said yesterday there may be fluctuations of temperatures and Arctic sea ice cover over the next decade or two, but the long-term trend is for warmer temperatures, less ice and trouble for polar bears.
Study authors said that reducing the rate of climate change may save polar bears on the long run.
In response to polar bears being on land, a study earlier this year found the land-based food would not help a polar bear adapt to the loss of sea ice. The science shows clearly that deep greenhouse gas reductions are needed to save polar bears from extinction, but the Obama administration doesn’t lay out a clear plan for what those targets should be and how to get there. Even though scientists believed that a decrease in the level of greenhouse emissions could represent a solution towards saving them, the number of polar bears population is still suffering casualties. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has said in a new report that it is very important to take immediate action to address the issue of the arctic warming.
The worldwide population of polar bears is estimated to be between 20,000 and 25,000 animals, and they live in five Arctic nations.
But the researchers said that food sources on land are limited. “Until that happens, we’re going to do everything within our power to give the polar bear a chance to survive”.
In order to look at how emissions will affect polar bears in the coming years, researchers used two models. Now that the ice free period are stretching, they are not getting their primary meal, the seals, that are full of fat, that the bears need, they are becoming weaker. Over time, these pollutants can hurt their survival rates by compromising their “immune system, hormone regulation, growth patterns [and] reproduction”. The plan also fails to address the fact that polar bears now have no critical habitat protections.
The recent report urged governments to adopt urgent measures of curbing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping them under 3.5 W/ m2.
In addition to drawing attention to the climate change threat, the plan outlines actions to better manage subsistence harvest, minimize risks of contamination from oil and chemical spills, protect denning habitat from human disturbance and industrial activity, deter human-bear conflicts and conduct research.