Recently there was great news for the polar bear and other arctic species! Previously, the areas were protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department but a lower court had put that at risk. According to BiologicalDiversity.Org
A federal appeals court today upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s designation of more than 120 million acres as critical habitat in Arctic Alaska for imperiled polar bears. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling reverses a 2013 lower court decision that shot down the habitat designation.Polar bears Photo courtesy USFWS. Today’s decision offers polar bears the full protection of critical habit they truly need, according to three environmental groups (the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and Greenpeace) that intervened in the case to defend the habitat designation against challenges from oil companies and the state of Alaska.
Climate Change Impact
Polar bears are often considered the poster child for how climate change is affecting vulnerable species. Their natural habitat consists of ice flows, ocean and coastal edges. As temperatures increase, polar ice cover shrinks reducing the polar bear’s habitat. There are 25 thousand individuals left in 19 groups distributed around the arctic circle. When the female is four or five years old, she usually has two cubs and raises them without the help of the male. The cubs stay with the mother for two and a half years being taught how to hunt and getting heavy enough to break through the ice by themselves before venturing out on their own.
- Scientific Name: Ursus maritimus
- Conservation Status: Vulnerable
- Population: 20,000-25,000
- Lifespan: 20 – 25 years
- Size: M 8-9 feet long, 1300 lbs F 6-7 feet long, 600 lbs
- Food Strategy: Mandatory Carnivore – Seals
Polar Bear Factoid: Spends so much time at sea that it’s considered a marine mammal.
Cute Factor: 10
Image Source: R.I.T.