Climate change is listed once again as the biggest threat to Polar Bears. The IUCN report says populations wil decline by 30 percent over next 30-40 years.

Climate change is listed once again as the biggest threat to Polar Bears. The IUCN report says populations wil decline by 30 percent over next 30-40 years.
Photo Credit: Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press (via CBC)

Warming climate again listed as threat to Polar Bears

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A new report has once again indicated climate change as a principle threat to polar bears.

The news came in the release of  International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)  “Red List of Threatened Species”

The IUCN was founded in 1948 and according to their website, is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization.

The assessment released last week says melting of Arctic sea ice due to global warming and climate change is the single biggest threat to the bears and it will “seriously threaten Polar Bear survival in the future”.  The IUCN has listed the Polar Bear as “vulnerable”.

The report says its scientists used a variety of computer models based on current and historical sea-ice conditions and polar bear sub-population data to make its projections which indicate a probable scenario of substantial loss in overall bear populations saying the species could decline by 30 percent over the next three to four decades.

A bear showing loose skin flaps from a summer without much food, waits on the shores of Hudson Bay for the sea to freeze over so it can begun hunting for seal.
A bear showing loose skin flaps from a summer without much food, waits on the shores of Hudson Bay for the sea to freeze over so it can begun hunting for seal. © explore.org

Based on the latest, most robust science, this assessment provides evidence that climate change will continue to seriously threaten polar bear survival in the future,” says Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General.

The IUCN website says studies show the loss of Arctic sea ice has progressed even faster than most previous models. Although yearly ice rates vary, the average from 1979 through to 2011 shows a clear linear trend of 14 percent loss each year.

ICUN Red List
ICUN Red List © IUCN

Polar bears need the ice to hunt, primarly seals, and as the ice season gets shorter, and more unpredictable, the bears are going hungry longer. There have been instances of bears starving, while another effect is a change in their habits to seek food on land such as garbage dumps, or raiding bird nests, often destroying entire colonies.

Polar Bears and ripple effect of climate change

Arctic nations (Canada, Denmark -Greenland, Norway, Russia, and the United States), have recently committed to a 10-year plan to help preserve the bears, the first international cooperative conservation plan for the bears, called the Circumpolar Action Plan

An emaciated bear in Norway, August 2015. Without ice to hunt seals, bears are turning to other sources with limited success. Survival rates of some populations is dwindling. When bears reach this state, they may not have enough energy left to properly hunt successfully, and may be doomed
An emaciated bear in Norway, August 2015. Without ice to hunt seals, bears are turning to other sources with limited success. Survival rates of some populations is dwindling. When bears reach this state, they may not have enough energy left to properly hunt successfully, and may be doomed © Rinie van Meurs

On the IUCN website Dag Vongraven, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) Polar Bear Specialist Group is quoted saying “IUCN is actively working with those countries, providing scientific data and advice to help implement the agreed plan in the most efficient and cohesive way possible. We truly hope that the action plan will make a difference for polar bear conservation.”

The Red List of Threatened Species includes 79,837 assessed species, of which 23,250 are threatened with extinction.

The list this year also includes 29 fungi  with habitat loss and climate change as the threates. The giant redwoods of California are listed as “endangered” mostly due to logging,

The IUCN update also indicates serious threats to coastal marine life due to pollution and overfishing and other destructive fishing habits. Some 1,400 bony fishes including both nearshore fishes and deep-sea fishes of the Eastern Central Atlantic – covering the area from Mauritania to Angola were listed with three percent as being threatened with extinction, In the Caribbean, 1,340 species were listed with five percent threatened with extinction.

In the report some 24 critically endangered species have been listed as possibly extinct mainly due to invasive species and habitat loss.

IUCN Polar bear specialist group

WWF- Polar Bears facts

Hindu news- India- red list

Birdlife- red list

MNN- redlist-

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One comment on “Warming climate again listed as threat to Polar Bears
  1. “The IUCN report says populations wil decline by 30 percent over next 30-40 years.”

    Actually, the report said there was a 70% chance the population *could* decline by 30% over the next 35 years *if* sea ice declines as predicted. That means there is at least a 30% chance the population might not decline by 30%.

    That’s chances of decline by 30%, *not* extinction. That’s good news.

    They also listed the current trend in the population size as “unknown” but that the current estimate of the global population is 20,000-31,000 (26,500), not the 20,000-25,000 quoted over previous years.

    more here: http://polarbearscience.com/2015/11/18/iucn-red-list-says-global-polar-bear-population-is-20000-31000-26500/

    Oddly, the IUCN PBSG has not yet updated their website to reflect this decision.

    Dr. Susan Crockford, zoologist