Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally proposed to list the polar bear as threatened with extin...
Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally proposed to list the polar bear as threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act. This follows a multi-year court battle by environmental groups to protect the bear from the impacts of global warming in the Arctic, including the rapid disappearance of the polar bear's sea-ice habitat.
The decision is in response to a petition brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and other environmental groups. Listing under the United States Endangered Species Act will provide broad protection to polar bears, including a requirement that U.S. federal agencies will be obliged to ensure that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out will not jeopardize the polar bears continued existence or adversely modify its critical habitat.
Polar bears live only in the Arctic and are totally dependent on the sea ice for all of their essential needs, including hunting for their prey of ice seals. The rapid warming of the Arctic and melting of the sea ice poses an overwhelming threat to polar bears, which could become the first mammal to lose 100 percent of their habitat to global warming.
Recent science has indicated that time is short for the polar bear. The arctic ice cap shrunk to a record low, and recent studies indicate the North Pole could be ice free by 2040. The polar bear population has declined from approximately 1200 bears in 1987 to fewer than 950 bears in 2004.
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Produced for Natural Resources Defense Council