We thought it would be a nice idea to include some information about polar bears on our company website since our logo features one so prominently! And because a lot of people at our company sponsor bears through the WWF.
If you visit www.wwf.org.uk you can also sponsor a Svalbard polar bear. WWF do wonderful work around the planet and are focusing on polar bears at the moment as they face peril from the effects of global warming.
Another great organisation we have links with are Polar Bears International, they also need donations to keep their work going and they have given us permission to post the following information and links to their site.
Information and photos supplied by www.polarbearsinternational.org
Polar Bear Status Report...
Polar bears are a potentially endangered species living in the circumpolar north. They are animals which know no boundaries. They pad across the ice from Russia to Alaska, from Canada to Greenland and onto Norway's Svalbard archipelago. No adequate census exists on which to base a worldwide population estimate, but biologists use a working figure of 20,000 to 25,000 bears with about sixty percent of those living in Canada.
The main threat to polar bears today is the loss of their icy habitat due to climate change. The summer ice loss in the Arctic is now equal to an area the size of Alaska, Texas, and the state of Washington combined.
As a result, the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group reclassified the polar bear as a vulnerable species on the IUCN's Red List of Endangered Species at their most recent meeting (Seattle, 2005). They reported that of the 19 subpopulations of polar bears, five are declining, five are stable, two are increasing, and seven have insufficient data on which to base a decision. On May 14, 2008, the U.S. Department of the Interior reclassified the polar bear as a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act, citing concerns about sea ice loss. Canada and Russia list the polar bear as a species of concern.
Climate change is the main threat to polar bears today. A diminishing ice pack directly affects polar bears, as sea ice is the platform from which they hunt seals. Although the Arctic has experienced warm periods before, the present shrinking of the Arctic's sea ice is rapid and unprecedented.
In the 1960s and 1970s, hunting was the major threat to the bears. At the time, polar bears were under such severe survival pressure from hunters that a landmark international accord was reached, despite the tensions and suspicions of the Cold War. The International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears was signed in Oslo, November 15, 1973 by the five nations with polar bear populations: Canada, Denmark (Greenland, Norway, the U.S., and the former U.S.S.R.
The polar bear nations agreed to prohibit random, unregulated sport hunting of polar bears and to outlaw hunting the bears from aircraft and icebreakers as had been common practice. The agreement also obliged each nation to protect polar bear denning areas and migration patterns and to conduct research relating to the conservation and management of polar bears. Finally, the nations agreed to share their polar bear research findings with each other. Member scientists of the Polar Bear Specialist Group now meet every three to four years under the auspices of the IUCN World Conservation Union to coordinate their research on polar bears throughout the Arctic.
The Oslo agreement was one of the first and most successful international conservation measures enacted in the 20th century. Its legacy continues today, with member scientists from each nation continuing to work together in face new threats to the bears including climate change, pollution, industrial activities, and poaching.