One of the world’s most beautiful animals is in serious trouble. It’s hard to get a real handle on polar bears living in the world because the animals are constantly on the move. One thing is clear, however, the estimated 20,000-25,000 polar bears currently living near the North Pole are almost endangered species.
The Decline of the Polar Bear
As the earth warms, the ice melts. You’ve heard it before, but examining the creatures that live on that ice makes the impact of global warming much more obvious. As the ice melts, polar bear populations are declining. In Canada’s West Hudson Bay, there was a large ice break-up some time ago. Since that time, the polar bear population has shrunk 22% in that area. Essentially only 78 of every 100 bears are still in the area. Even before the break-up, studies were showing that polar bear cubs were surviving to adulthood less frequently and that male bears were smaller and lighter than they were just twenty years ago.
These facts aren’t just happening in one area. Many centers of polar bear activity is showing the same results, and this is leading scientists to believe a huge problem is imminent. The polar bears might not make it.
A Vulnerable Species
In 2005, the polar bears were classified as a “vulnerable species.” In 2005, there were nineteen groups of polar bears being monitored. Five were declining, five were stable, two were growing and the rest didn’t have enough data to form a conclusion. In May of 2008, the United States listed polar bears as a “threatened species” as more sea ice is lost. Russia and Canada have the bears listed as “a species of concern.”
In the 1970s, polar bears were a concern for another reason. They were being killed off by hunters. The International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears was signed in Oslo, November 15, 1973 by the nations that have polar bears – The U.S.S.R, Canada, Greenland, Denmark, Norway and the United States. This was one of the earliest treaties that worked during the Cold War and still today, scientists meet four times a year to discuss polar bear research under the terms of the agreement.
What You Can Do to Help
You and your parents can donate to the programs that seek to research and support the polar bear population. Polar Bears International is a good place to start, but there are other programs as well. If you can’t afford to donate now, you can do your part to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming. Carpool, walk, take your bike or ride the bus to help keep damaging materials out of the air.
Finally, you can also alert your friends to the plight of the polar bear. These huge animals have no natural enemies, but sure enough humans, who have the power to save them, are hurting their way of life and possibly bringing about their end. Educate friends and family members so that they can also do their part to protect the environment and the creatures that rely on it.