31 March 2007

The Polar Bear in Trouble

Polar Bear

This kind-of funny picture of a polar bear is taken from the cover page of the Spring 2007 issue of Geographica - a supplement of L'actualite magazine. The caption means "To save the King of the North" and the picture underlies the plight of this magnificent animal of the Arctic.

With the same situation as the grizzlies, the polar bears are also not on the way to extinction. In contrary, the polar bears have doubled from 10,000 to 25,000 in 25 years; of this population 15,000 of them live in Canada. Nevertheless, the bear is still officially designated as a threatened species because of the low rate of reproduction, the legal hunting by the aboriginals, the pollution of the atmosphere and the most threatening warming climate. With every rise in temperature, the polar bears are forced to adapt to the rapid changes, such as the frozen range of the habitat and the days of the hibernation. The warming might also introduce more encroaching of human beings and more indirect human activities to their habitat.

According to Geographica, the meat of polar bear is sometimes infected by diseases and the livers have a high level of contaminants. So, the meat is often only used to feed the dogs and not consumed by humans, though the fur brings from 500 to 3,000 Canadian dollars.

In the closing remark, the grizzlies have also doubled their population from 312 in 1975 to over 500 in 2005 in the Yellow Stone National Park in the United States. The administration proposed to de-list the grizzly from the endangered species list in November 2005, and the grizzly in the park may be de-listed in the half of 2007.

Credit & Copyright:Geographica

17 May 2008

Status of Polar Bears

On Wednesday, 14 May 2008, the United States reclassified the polar bear as a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act. The decision of the US Government has been expressed by the view of President Bush on the decline in Arctic sea ice from global warming. Notwithstanding the criticism of environmentalists, this reclassification actually helps the polar bears, considering the restriction of the importation of game trophies into the United States. Half of the world's polar bears live in Nunavut, where Inuit guides charge American hunters up to $30,000 for the privilege of shooting a polar bear (two-thirds of the wild polar bears live in Canada; estimate about 15,000).

In Canada, polar bears are still considered only a Species of Special Concern, and the Canadian Government has no plans to change the designation. A change might or not might be made after they receive a committee report this August. Therefore, hunting is allowed in several provinces in Canada. Some Inuit communities have been reporting increasing sightings of bear on land and the under-weighed bears; however, these facts might likely be related to the changes in the climate. The Province of Manitoba recently listed the polar bear on its own threatened species list in February. This provincial government shall restrict the development on the "natural" habitat of polar bears on public and private land along the Hudson Bay coastline.

With this perspective, the controversial decision on this arctic carnivores of President Bush should be lauded. It is a difficult balance of the protection of the wildlife and the need of economic development and related activities in the Arctic.

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