Will We Act Soon Enough to Save Polar Bears?

Polar bear conservation group blasts Obama admin's climate-change alarmism

As part of last year's historic Paris climate agreement, almost 200 countries pledged to reduce carbon emissions in an effort to keep global temperatures from reaching 2 degrees Celsius above what they were in pre-industrial times.

During the late spring and summer months when the ocean freezes over, polar bears use sea ice to travel, hunt their primary prey - ringed and bearded seals - and rear their young. The plan for recovery, announced by the agency Monday, includes steps to mediate their interactions with humans, track and manage oil spills that would affect their habitat, and monitor their numbers.

The report came along with the Conservation Management Plan (CMP), that is oriented toward a more efficient action regime regarding the climate change in the Arctic zone.

Polar Bears are at an even higher risk of extinction than initially believed, a new report has warned, and it's all down to human-driven global warming. The department estimated the current polar bear population is about 26,000. The final plan meets both legal mandates in a single document, she said.

Although the recovery plan repeatedly stresses the urgency of tackling climate change, the Fish and Wildlife Service does not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

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Today's plan comes as Arctic sea-ice extent plummeted to a record low during October and November and reached the second lowest extent on record in December. WWF played an integral role in drafting the plan and strengthening the climate change action portion of the plan.

While the CMP focuses on management actions for the two USA subpopulations of polar bears that live off the coast of Alaska, it contributes to efforts to conserve polar bears in the other four range states of Norway, Greenland, Canada and Russian Federation.

The polar bear was one of 10 creatures to have a Go Pro camera attached to it as part of a study of animals in the southern Beaufort Sea in the Arctic.

According to Shaye Wolf, climate science director for the Center for Biological Diversity, the plan presented by the Fish and Wildlife Service is toothless without governments internationally taken more seriously the global climate issue. In 2013, the FWSreported the Chukchi Sea population in Alaska was doing "quite well", while the Norwegian Polar Institute found in 2015 that the Barents Sea polar bears had risen by 42 percent since 2004. The Endangered Species Act, which has protected polar bears since they were listed as threatened in 2008, mandates a recovery plan, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which also safeguards polar bears, mandates a conservation plan, she said. 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. "Recovery plans work, but only if they truly address the threats to species".

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