12/6/2013 1:14:52 AM
Meeting to Strengthen Polar Bear Protections
The Polar Bear Range States Meeting is taking place in Moscow this week with a focus on polar bear conservation. As a member of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group, our chief scientist, Steve Amstrup, is serving as a technical advisor to the proceedings, along with the group Chair, Dag Vongraven. On the opening day of the meeting, the two of them presented a series of updates to delegates, including:
- Current status and threats to the 19 populations of polar bears throughout the Arctic
- A monitoring framework for polar bear conservation
- Upcoming research priorities
The meeting, officially titled the International Forum on Conservation of Polar Bears, Jubilee Meeting of the Parties to the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, brings together delegates from the five polar bear nations—Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States—to reaffirm their commitment to polar bear conservation.
In the meeting's Forum Declaration document, delegates pledged to work to ensure polar bear survival, citing climate change and increased human activities in the Arctic as the single biggest threat to this iconic species—much harder problems to solve than the threats from over-hunting when the Agreement was first signed 40 years ago. Other issues include the threats of poaching and illegal trafficking and increased human-bear conflicts in a warming Arctic. Meeting goals include finalizing, adopting, and implementing a Circumpolar Action Plan for Polar Bear Conservation.
The meeting began December 4 and will run through December 6.