Monday, February 5, 2007

Protecting Polar Bears

The U.S. Dept. of the Interior is proposing to list polar bears as a threatened species. Public comments on the proposal are being accepted until April 9th, 2007. After sifting through some government documents I determined that public comments can be submitted in two ways:

1. By Mail: Direct mail to Supervisor, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Marine Mammals Management Office, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503

2. By Email: Put "Attn:Polar Bear Finding" in the subject, use ASCII format, and no special characters, and address to polar_bear_finding@fws.gov.

Polar bears are in trouble due to hunting and environmental change. Polar bears have been found drowned in the last year. Despite being exceptional swimmers, the distance between the ice has grown so far that polar bears can't make it - it spans hundreds of miles - and the bears die trying to reach the sea ice. Survival rates for cubs are also declining. There are currently an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears on the planet. If you want to read very specific details on current polar bear research being done, check out this polar bear status report, or visit Polar Bears International for all kinds of polar bear data.

If you want to see polar bears in the wild, there are many commercial tours available. You can also go with the Sierra Club or the National Wildlife Federation for a conservation oriented tour. I certainly hope to be able to plan a trip to see bears in the wild before it's too late, but sadly, not in 2007. If you go, send pictures!

I am pleased that Idaho's former Governor, now Secretary of the Interior, is recommending that the species be listed as threatened. However, we can expect opposition, as with all things involving the Endangered Species Act. If you support efforts to protect the polar bears, please take a moment to weigh in with a quick comment.

No comments: