Saturday, 15 November 2014

A positive step for Polar Bears

Polar Bears have been listed as a protected migratory species under CMS

Following a recent conference in Quito, Ecuador, the Polar Bear has now been listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). 

Over 100 countries attended the week-long conference, which resulted in a record 31 species gaining protected status, including the iconic Polar Bear. 

The bears’ decreasing population is spread across five countries: USA, Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia. Owing to the new listing, these countries have had to consent to working closely together to improve protection for the bear, which frequently crosses international borders during their huge migrations, classing them as ‘migratory’ under the rules of the convention. 

Currently there are 10 recognised subpopulations of Polar Bear. Four of these are classified by the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission as ‘declining’ and nine as ‘data deficient’, with only only classified as ‘increasing’. 

The bears’ main threat is global warming, which has the most substantial impact on their polar habitat. This temperature increase reduces the sea ice on which the bears rely on for food, mating and denning. 

In addition, some bear subpopulations are under treat by shipping, subsistence hunting, and sport hunting as seen with the Canadian populations. Threats also include disease, contamination with pollutants, human-wildlife conflict, competition and hybridisation with brown bears.

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