2/1/2013 2:59:31 AM

Polar Bear Conservation and Management Strategies

In a paper to be published in an upcoming issue of Conservation Letters, 12 scientists—including Polar Bears International's chief scientist, Dr. Steve Amstrup, and several of our scientific advisors—lay out conservation and management strategies to help polar bears and other Arctic species suffering from the effects of global warming.

Lead author Dr. Andrew Derocher writes that human caused global warming is happening faster in the Arctic than anywhere else on the planet. This climate change has already had negative effects on animals, such as polar bears, that depend on sea ice for their survival.

While the effects of global warming have been somewhat gradual up until now, that could all change. We may soon reach a critical threshold in which some Arctic species will no longer be able to survive or reproduce. Yet, none of the five nations with jurisdiction over polar bears (Norway, Russia, USA, Canada, and Greenland) has a plan for responding to sudden changes in polar bear populations.

The article states, "Pre-planning, consultation, and coordination of management responses will be necessary to reduce the risks to human safety and other effects of catastrophic declines in habitat. Advance consideration of the costs, legality, logistical difficulties, likelihood of success, and invasiveness of potential responses will be critical to minimizing short-term negative effects while laying the groundwork for longer-term conservation objectives."

The authors have grouped concerns into three categories:

• Human safety

• Conservation planning (i.e., objectives, harvest management, and consultation)

• And possible management responses (i.e., diversionary feeding, supplemental feeding, rehabilitation, translocation, rescue, population reduction, and population assessments)

They emphasize that responses must be supported by the best available science and the most relevant traditional knowledge. 

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