Half of Barents ice is gone
May 8, 2007
A new report on the state of the
Barents Sea is setting off new alarms within Norway’s
government and the institute that tracks developments in
report, compiled by a management forum for
the Arctic led by the Norwegian Polar
Institute, shows that half of the summer
ice in the Barents has disappeared over
the past 10 years.
That in turn has
reduced stocks of both fish and birds in
the area, as temperatures have risen by a
full degree during the same period.
"The reduction of the ice in the sea is
dramatic," Bjørn Fossli Johansen of the
Norwegian Polar Institute told
Aftenposten.no. "The ecosystem in the
Barents is guided to a large degree by the
climate. This will have consequences for
the entire ecosystem."
Norway's environmental minister Helen
Bjørnøy, whose governmental department
wanted to create the management plan for
the Barents, expressed
deep concern over
"We had been afraid of this, because
we'd had signals through other reports
that this was the situation," Bjørnøy told
Aftenposten.no. "But all reports that
document the seriousness of the situation
are always a wakeup call."
Bjørnøy said the next step will be to
create a similar report for the Norwegian
Sea, and eventually for the entire
Norwegian coastal area.
Polar bears with PCBs
Warmer waters have already signaled the
retreat of some fish, including cod.
Stocks of seabirds have also declined,
with counts showing some breeding grounds
reduced by as much as 20 percent during
the past five years.
The report notes, however, that it's
difficult to determine whether the
reductions are entirely pegged to warmer
seas, since overfishing and natural
reproductive cycles could play a role.
The report also reveals worrisome
levels of pollutants in the Barents that
could be poisoning polar bears. Studies of
polar bear fat have shown PCBs that could
influence hormone levels, damage their
immune systems and reduce reproductive
Bjørnøy was reluctant to say what if
any concrete measures might be taken in
response to the report. "We need to look
at this in its entirety, and measures are
being evaluated constantly," she said.
"This is a theme that's high on our
Aftenposten English Web Desk
State's case against federal protection slammed by green groups.
A proposal to list polar bears
as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act has Alaska
politicians seeing green, as in the color of money that could be
lost if a bear recovery plan hinders the state's resource
Gov. Sarah Palin and a majority of
legislators strongly oppose the listing, and say the acknowledged
intent behind it -- curbing greenhouse gas emissions nationally --
should be debated in another forum, not a law aimed at protecting
"I'm not comfortable with Alaska
being used as a pawn in that game," said state Rep. Craig Johnson,
R-Anchorage, a leading opponent.
But the rules of the listing game
call for a decision to be based on science, and the official Palin
administration response says polar bears are thriving, that global
warming science is inconclusive and that bears are not threatened
by human activity -- a claim conservation groups have labeled
"No one who purports to have even a
moderate understanding of the climate literature could possibly
fail to be aware of this research, and therefore I must conclude
that it is a deliberate attempt to mislead," said Kassie Siegel,
an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, and the
author of the original 154-page petition laying out the original
case for listing polar bears.
Polar bears are classified as marine
mammals because they spend most of their lives on sea ice, using
it to hunt seals, breed and travel. The proposed listing is based
to a large extent on the threat to sea ice.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center
at the University of Colorado last September reported minimum
summer sea ice for 2006 at 2.2 million square miles. Since
satellite monitoring began in 1979, the summer sea ice minimum has
declined 8.59 percent per decade, a rate that will make the Arctic
Ocean ice free by 2060, according to NSIDC research scientist
The Fish and Wildlife Service in
December determined that listing polar bears as threatened -- in
danger of extinction in a significant portion of its range -- was
warranted, pending further review and public testimony. Palin,
elected in November, claims the agency did not use the best
scientific and commercial information available.
STATE SEES DISAGREEMENT
The official state testimony claims
sea ice is melting, but the Fish and Wildlife Service picked out
the most extreme climate models to predict future effects. State
officials say scientists disagree over humans' role in warming, a
more comprehensive evaluation is needed and polar bears can adapt
to less ice.
"The application for this listing is
based on the unfounded, unproven scientific hypotheses that
climate change is caused by human activity, in the form of
increased release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere," said
House Speaker John Harris, a Valdez Republican.
That's a view in contrast to world
climate experts who made up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change. They reported in February that global warming "very
likely" is caused by human use of fossil fuels such as oil, gas
Environmental groups say that unless
countermeasures are taken, warming will melt the prime habitat of
polar bears. Even if sea ice does not disappear, they say, warming
could push its edge well beyond the continental shelf, creating a
watery barrier or hazard for polar bears trying to reach sea ice
Sea ice loss so far has not meant
fewer polar bears, Johnson said. According to testimony submitted
by Palin administration officials, even a 30 percent decline in
the total population of polar bears within 35 to 50 years, as
predicted by the polar bear group of the International Union for
the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the world's
largest conservation network, is not enough to warrant a listing.
Such a drop "does not result in a population that is threatened
with extinction," they contend.
Polar bears have survived two
historic periods of warming and likely can do it again, Johnson
said. He's not so sure, he said, that Alaska could survive the
polar bear being listed.
BEAR, OIL LINK
Alaska's economy is fueled by
petroleum and elected officials fear that a polar bear recovery
plan, plus the third-party lawsuits it would spawn, could gum up
Arctic resource development and the next hoped-for boom, a
pipeline to carry 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to
customers in the Lower 48 states.
Roughly 85 percent of Alaska's
general fund money comes from royalties and taxes on the oil
industry, but the trans-Alaska pipeline has for years been running
less than half full as reserves dwindle down. It has been
political suicide for a politician to suggest instituting an
income tax or tapping the earnings of the Alaska Permanent Fund, a
$38 billion bank account that provides residents with an annual
check. So the Legislature and the governor are pushing for a
natural gas pipeline that will provide continued pain-free income,
not to mention jobs.
"It is important that we prevent
listing the polar bear as threatened, not only because the
designation is not clearly supported by science, but because it
will be used as leverage to stop development projects across the
country, including our own natural gas pipeline," said Sen. Gary
Conservation groups call the state's
position an attempt to manufacture uncertainty where none exists.
"Overall, the state of Alaska has
completely lost any credibility it might have had on this issue by
submitting this outrageous letter," Siegel said.
Deborah Williams, a former Interior
Department special assistant for Alaska and now president of
Alaska Conservation Solutions, a group aimed at pursuing solutions
for climate change, called the state response misguided and
"This is the state of Alaska," she
said. "They ought to be speaking from the most complete set of
scientific evidence ... and they ought to speak to it fairly."
The state's submission fails to
counter or even address recent Alaska polar bear research showing
fewer Beaufort Sea cubs surviving, smaller body weights and skull
sizes, plus drownings, cannibalism and starvation, she said.
That's in contrast to the Fish and Wildlife Service's own initial
review published Jan. 9 in the Federal Register.
The agency is sifting through more
than more than 400,000 electronic comments plus boxes of written
comment lining a wall in an Anchorage office. Interior Secretary
Dirk Kempthorne is required to render his decision by January.
Expedition studying decline of polar bears
Climate change is shrinking polar ice flows and that's
taking a toll on polar bears.
Mild winters cause the ice to break up sooner and polar
bears need the ice to hunt.
Explorer Jim McNeill went to Spitzbergen Island in the
arctic to see how the shortened hunting season has
affected the polar bears there.
He sent back the following report.
It's minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit and I'm heading a 200 mile
expedition along the eastern coast of the island.
Our goal is to take a snapshot of the polar bear
population, something we simply don't know very much
The team had been traveling for six days before coming
across a female on land.
This time of year they really should be sea ice looking
for food, but so much of that ice has melted.
Later, we see a mother and her cub. Most polar bears have
two cubs each year.
A single cub could mean the other has died or could also
be an indication of stress put on the mother due to a lack
"We've found footprints having retraced our steps, of a
polar bear following us. Several instances you get polar
bears who really don't want to leave you alone. I guess
after a week in the field you begin to smell quite tasty
to them. We had a bear visit our tent last night, Max was
awoken by a rustling, a bear has tried to knock on the
"The bear has had his nose right up against the tent here.
We've got saliva there on the rope, just on the end there
and quite a bit on the door over here. So he's come quite
So this really is the start of a campaign in conjunction
with the Born Free Foundation to help try and save the
"It's an extraordinary animal," says McNeil.
Last Updated: 5/4/2007 10:32:34 AM
Canadian controversy: How
do polar bears fare?
Study: Beaufort Sea polar bears
shift from ice to land for dens
The Associated Press
May 2, 2007
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - More pregnant polar bears
in Alaska are digging snow dens on land instead of sea ice, according to a
federal study, and researchers say deteriorating sea ice due to climate
warming is the likely reason.
From 1985 to 1994, 62 percent of the female polar bears studied dug dens
in snow on sea ice. From 1998 to 2004, just 37 percent gave birth on sea
ice. The rest instead dug snow dens on land, according to the study by
three U.S. Geological Survey researchers.
Bears that continued to den on ice moved east in the Beaufort Sea off
Alaska's northern coast, away from ice that was thinner or unstable.
"We hypothesized that the sea ice changes may have reduced the
availability or degraded the quality of offshore denning habits and
altered the spatial distribution of denning," said wildlife biologist
Anthony Fischbach, lead author of the study. "In recent years, Arctic pack
ice has formed progressively later, melted earlier, and lost much of its
older and thicker multiyear component."
The study makes no predictions of harm in the short term but suggests
the Beaufort Sea bear population could be harmed if warming continues.
Though bears are powerful swimmers, at some point they might face daunting
distances of open water to reach denning habitat on shore.
"If Arctic sea ice continues to decline, we predict that the proportion of
coastal denning will continue to increase until the autumn ice conditions
prevent pregnant bears foraging offshore from reaching the coast in
advance of denning," Fischbach said.
The study is under USGS review. Fischbach spoke about the study at the
Alaska Marine Science Symposium, which continues through Wednesday. The
co-authors are research wildlife biologists Steven Amstrup and David
The study is likely to give ammunition to conservation groups calling for
polar bears to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Three conservation groups sued the federal government in December 2005
seeking protections for polar bears under the law, blaming global warming
for melting of sea ice, the primary habitat of the animals.
Department of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in December proposed
listing polar bears as a "threatened" species. A public comment period on
the proposal is open through April 9.
"Threatened" under the law means a species is likely to become
endangered in the foreseeable future. "Endangered" means a species is in
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
The listing is opposed by Alaska Republican Gov. Sarah Palin, who told
Kempthorne by letter that listing polar bears has the potential to damage
the economy of Alaska and the nation without any benefit to polar bear
numbers or their habitat, and that there are no human activities that can
be regulated to effect change.
"The dire impacts from global warming on America's polar bears continue to
mount: drownings, cannibalism, starvation, reduced cub survival, and now
denning dislocation," said Deborah Williams, president of Alaska
Conservation Solutions, an Anchorage-based group aimed at halting climate
change. "Clearly, we need to demand that Congress and the administration
protect polar bears, and our future, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions
and listing polar bears under the Endangered Species Act."
Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity, the lead author of
the petition seeking to list polar bears as threatened, said the study
underscores the scope of changes in the Arctic.
"It's such the canary in the coal mine," Siegel said. "If you want to know
what's going to be happening in the rest of the world in 25 years, all you
have to know is what's happening in the Arctic. Everything is changing,
and not for the better."
Alaska polar bears spend most of their lives on sea ice, a marine habitat
from which they hunt for their main prey, ringed seals, plus bearded seals
and other animals.
Typically in November or December, after sea ice has reconnected to
Alaska's coast, pregnant polar bears dig dens where snow has piled into
Sea ice pushed into shore becomes jumbled into pressure ridges that
capture snow used for dens. However, with new ice, that can happen after
bears want to make dens. On shore, terrestrial features catch the snow.
"They're generally using coastal bluffs and the river bluffs," said study
co-author David Douglas said. "Along the big rivers, they have bluffs that
The USGS estimates the Beaufort Sea polar bear population at 1,526. In the
denning study, researchers determined that denning distribution had
shifted based on satellite radio tracking of 89 bears in northern Alaska
that led them to 124 dens between 1985 and 2004.
They believe pregnant bears shifted onto shore because the sea froze
later, creating few pressure ridges. Also, more old ice that may have had
pressure ridges had melted.
"The first-year ice would just be forming," Douglas said. "It's very flat,
unless there's been an early winter that allows it to thicken enough and
actually ridge up and then catch snow."
They did not speculate whether bears might be harmed in the short term.
"The big issue is, the long-term may be coming sooner that we thought it
was," Fischbach said.
"If the foraging areas get so far off shore they (bears) cannot reach the
coastal areas in advance of denning, and at the same time they'll be
facing deterioration of the offshore denning habitat, then we would expect
there would be reproductive consequences to the population," Fischbach
Researchers rejected two alternative hypotheses for the shift to land -
hunting and the presence of more whale carcasses on beaches. Canada and
the United States minimized hunting about 30 years ago but the denning
shift occurred less than a decade ago. They also observed that just 5
percent of "pre-denning" females passed within 5 kilometers of a carcass
site, compared to 30 percent of females that did not den that year.
Polar plight: Bears are endangered,
should be protected
Last Updated: 05/01/2007
It shouldn't be too difficult. The decision whether or
not to list a plant or an animal as endangered should be
based on science, as indeed it is in the Endangered
Species Act. Trouble is, the act itself appears
endangered by politicians for whom science is an
The act specifies the conditions under which the
survival of an animal can be considered in jeopardy.
Scientists decide whether those conditions exist for any
Take the polar bear, for example. Scientists know
that the bears are in trouble, and they know it is
because the sea ice on which they live is melting.
Summer ice decreased 8.59 percent per decade between
1979 and 2006. At this rate, the Arctic Ocean sea ice
will disappear by 2060, sooner if the rate escalates.
Since polar bears depend on sea ice to hunt, breed
and travel, the loss of it seems an obvious threat to
their survival. The Center for Biological Diversity
makes this point in its 154-page petition for listing
polar bears as endangered. The National Fish and
Wildlife Service concurs.
But Alaska's new governor and a majority of its
legislators oppose the listing, and it's easy to see
why. They are concerned about the survival of the
state's royalties and taxes coming from the oil industry
- 85 percent of the state's general fund - and a
proposal to build a gas pipeline to the lower 48 states.
A polar bear recovery plan might hinder Alaska's
oil and gas development, so Alaska officials claim the
petition to list the bear as endangered is nothing more
than a ploy by conservationists. They say the bear is
being used as a poster animal by climatologists trying
to drum up concern about climate change caused by
burning of fossil fuels, which is probably true, as far
as it goes.
But the officials in Alaska also make the specious
claim that human-caused global warming is unproven and
unfounded, despite a global consensus among experts to
the contrary. Not only is their argument insupportable,
it is beside the point. No matter the cause, the bear's
habitat is disappearing, endangering not only this
top-of-the-food- chain predator, but the Arctic
ecosystem that is its home.
Politicizing the Endangered Species Act for the sake
of the fossil fuels that are driving the climate change
that threatens the polar bear - and the rest of us -
isn't just unscientific. It is colossally myopic.
|Global Warming To Provoke Polar
Bear Attacks - RUSSIA
Polar bears could start attacking humans
more frequently due to global warming, a Russian scientist
Polar bears are carnivores that mainly live on seals,
but can also feed on birds, shellfish, rodents and walruses -
anything they can catch and kill. They are more likely to hunt
humans than other bears and attacks could, for instance,
happen at hunting camps or weather stations.
"Sea ice [the area covered by ice in the Arctic] is
decreasing, and this is the polar bear's main habitat... In a
search for food, the bears could end up at coastal areas and
approach villages on the sea shore," Oleg Anisimov, a
professor at the State Hydrology Institute under Russia's
hydrometeorology service, told a news conference.
"This presents a considerable threat for people," he
Anisimov said that according to different estimates,
ice thickness in the Arctic has reduced by 10-40% in the last
Scientists and climatologists have been concerned that
the decrease in sea ice caused by global warming could result
in the extinction of the polar bear.
global warming, an ongoing
study says polar bear
populations are rising in
the country's eastern
By Fred Langan
| Correspondent of The
Toronto - Polar
bears are the poster
animals of global warming.
The image of a polar bear
floating on an ice floe is
one of the most dramatic
visual statements in the
fight against rising
temperatures in the
But global warming is
not killing the polar
bears of Canada's eastern
Arctic, according to one
ongoing study. Scheduled
for release next year, it
says the number of polar
bears in the Davis Strait
area of Canada's eastern
Arctic – one of 19 polar
bear populations worldwide
– has grown to 2,100, up
from 850 in the mid-1980s.
"There aren't just a
few more bears. There are
a ... lot more bears,"
biologist Mitchell Taylor
told the Nunatsiaq News of
Iqaluit in the Arctic
territory of Nunavut.
Earlier, in a long
Dr. Taylor explained his
conviction that threats to
polar bears from global
warming are exaggerated
and that their numbers are
increasing. He has studied
the animals for the
Nunavut government for two
Updates from the study
by Taylor and his team
have received significant
media coverage in Canada,
shaking the image of the
polar bear as endangered.
"I don't think there is
any question polar bears
are threatened by global
warming," responds Andrew
Derocher of the World
Conservation Union and a
professor of biological
sciences at the University
of Alberta in Edmonton. He
spoke by phone from
Tuktoyaktuk in Canada's
1,800 miles to the west of
This past weekend, the
midday temperature was
just 6 degrees F. on the
shore of the Arctic Ocean
there. Daylight now lasts
18 hours, from 6 a.m.
until just before
Perfect conditions for
polar bear hunting. But
Professor Derocher and a
graduate student, Seth
Cherry, are shooting the
animals with tranquilizer
darts and fitting them
with radio transmitters.
It's part of a long-term
effort to figure out
whether the huge
carnivores – with the
Kodiak bear, the largest
on the planet – are being
hurt by global warming.
The study by Taylor and
his team has received
widespread media coverage
in Canada, shaking the
image of the polar bear as
endangered. There are even
questions about the famous
photograph of a polar bear
adrift on what looks like
an isolated and melting
ice floe. Even scientists
who firmly believe that
the bears are under threat
from climate change say
the picture doesn't tell
the whole truth
Polar bears often travel on ice floes, and they can swim "easily" in open water for 60 miles, according to Derocher. "Bears will often hang out on glacier ice or large pieces of multiyear ice. To me that picture looked a little fudged," he says. "But some colleagues of mine said it was legit."
But Derocher still maintains the polar bear is threatened, even if its numbers aren't down all across the circumpolar region where the giant bears live and hunt (). Of the 13 polar bear populations in Canada, at least two are in decline, Derocher says. The number of polar bears along the western edge of Hudson Bay, for example, has fallen by 22 percent over the last decade
"They are declining due to global warming and changes in when the ice freezes and melts in Hudson Bay," says Derocher. The port of Churchill on Hudson Bay has seen its shipping season lengthen because of disappearing ice.
Derocher and other scientists in his group are concerned that the retreating ice in the Arctic may pose a danger to future generations of polar bears because of habitat loss.
"The critical problem is, the sea ice is changing. We're looking ahead three generations, 30 to 50 years. To say that bear populations are growing in one area now is irrelevant," says Derocher.
That Davis Strait area where the bear population is thriving stretches from the southern part of Baffin Island, the fifth-largest island in the world, to the subarctic shores of Ungava Bay in Quebec Province and the coast of Northern Labrador. Just this one polar bear range covers an estimated 55,000 square miles, much of it open sea at certain times of year.
Animal rights activists can take some credit for the growth of polar bear numbers in the eastern Arctic. The battle to ban the hunting of harp seal pups has meant that the harp seal population has jumped from 2 million to 5 million. It also means sealers, especially those from Norway, are no longer hunting the polar bears, which they used to do when the seal hunt was larger.
The increase in the population is not a climate-change related issue," Derocher claims. It's the result of "conservation and an increase in the harp seal population," he says.
Canada hosts two-thirds of the world's estimated 25,000 polar bears. Males can grow to be 11 feet long (5 feet tall at the shoulder) and weigh 1,500 pounds. The largest females are 7 feet long and weigh up to 700 pounds. Polar bears evolved from their cousin, the giant brown bears of Alaska, about 200,000 years ago.
Fully grown male polar bears are too big to wear the radio collars that Derocher and his team carry in their helicopter. Instead, they look for young males and females. Derocher says it's harder and harder to find polar bears in the area. Even native hunters say it's increasingly difficult to locate the animals.
Inuit hunters in the eastern Arctic, however, have long disagreed with scientists about polar bear numbers. In small Inuit communities, hunters kill bears that wander too close to human settlements.
The huge arctic territory of Nunavut is 730,000 square miles, bigger than Alaska and almost three times the size of Texas. It has a population of just 26,000, almost all of them Inuit.
Inuit hunters make their own estimates of the polar bear population based on the number of animals they encounter on their travels. Taylor says scientists have ignored the anecdotal evidence of the Inuit, who say bear numbers were rising. Inuits also report more polar bears wandering into their towns and villages, where they are a threat to children.
"I'm pretty sure the numbers [of polar bears] are climbing," says Pitselak Pudlat, an Inuit hunter and manager of the Aiviq Hunters and Trappers Organization at Cape Dorset, Baffin Island. "During the winter there were polar bears coming into town." His community is north of the bear population studied by Taylor.
Derocher worries about Taylor's evidence. Taylor and his team work for the Inuit-dominated government. For cultural reasons, that government wants to preserve hunting and keep polar bears off the endangered species list, Derocher says.
"It's not sport hunting I'm worried about. They're after big males, and there are enough of them for breeding," says Derocher. "But some populations of polar bears do need better protection."
Russia proposes legal hunt to save polar bears
Steven Lee Myers, Vankarem, Russia
April 17, 2007
Proposal to list polar bears as endangered species
generates heavy public comment
ON THE frozen edge of the Arctic expanse, where a changing
climate has brought polar bears into greater contact with people,
Russia has embraced a counter-intuitive method of preserving the
creatures: hunting them, legally.
For the first time since
the Soviet Union banned the practice more than five decades ago, the
Government is preparing to allow hunters to kill the bears.
The animals are descending more often on coastal villages in
this part of Russia's far north as a result of shrinking sea ice
generally attributed to a warming planet.
"The normal life space for the polar bears is shrinking," said
Anatoly Kochnev, a biologist in the region. "They come in search of
food on the shore, and the main sources of food are where people
If hunters are allowed to take at least some bears legally,
the reasoning goes, they might be less tempted to break the law for
the bears' meat, an illicit delicacy, and for the thousands of
dollars pelts can fetch.
"It is like the Russian saying," said Sergei Nomkymyn, a
hunter in this village 130 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle.
"The wolves would not be hungry, and the sheep would remain intact."
Still, it remains to be seen whether the hunt can really
reduce the poaching in a country with notorious corruption and lax
enforcement of its environmental rules.
The twin threats facing Russia's polar bears — a warming
climate and poaching — have put Vankarem and other villages in the
country's remote north-east at the centre of efforts to ensure the
The shrinking sea ice has taken the bears further from their
natural sources of food. And although poaching has long been a
problem in an area where bear hunting was once a way of life, the
loss of natural habitat has made illegal hunting easier.
"When they are on the shore, they are in danger of being
killed," said Mr Kochnev.
The Government estimates that as many as 100 bears are killed
each year. NEW YORK TIMES
Climate push for UN agenda
THE British Government will make a concerted effort this week to
push climate change up the agenda when it raises the matter for the
first time in the UN Security Council.
The Security Council debate has come about despite opposition
from the US, Russia and China, which made clear they did not see
climate change as an appropriate subject for the Security Council.
The British position is getting an important boost from
unexpected quarters: the US military. Eleven former generals are
issuing a 63-page report calling on the Bush Administration to do
more about climate change, warning of "significant national security
challenges" to the US otherwise.
Writing under the name of the Centre for Naval Analyses, the
generals say that global warming could act as a "threat multiplier"
by hitting volatile and unstable countries the hardest.
They point to Darfur and Somalia as examples of conflicts
stemming from struggles over scarce resources, which can only be
exacerbated by rising temperatures.
Britain has pursued a similar argument in justifying the
debate, although it refuses to give examples.
April 9, 2007
More than 500,000 people have commented on a proposal to list
polar bears as "threatened" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Monday was the deadline for the public to weigh in on whether
America's polar bears, found exclusively in Alaska, merit
additional protection due to global warming.
Bruce Woods, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service in Alaska, said Monday that e-mail comments alone topped
the half-million mark. He said it could be several days before the
agency has a tally on the number of comments but that the agency
also received enough surface mail and petitions to fill multiple
Woods could not say with certainty whether any other species
has brought in as much public comment.
"To my knowledge, none ever has," he said.
Conservation groups claimed Monday that their side alone provided
half a million comments.
"The sense of urgency about the fate of the polar bears is
like nothing we've ever seen in an endangered species listing,"
said Andrew Wetzler of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The
plight of these animals is critical, and so is the sense that the
changes affecting them are eventually going to affect us. That's
why there is such tremendous public support for getting this
The comments collected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, however, were not an opinion poll.
Woods said the agency sought public comment regarding the
science behind the December decision, plus additional information
on polar bear denning, sea ice change and potential threats to the
In the next eight months, he said, the agency will review
the collected comments and consider new studies that could help
"We'll continue to work with GS (U.S. Geological Survey) and
our international partners to continue to gather the best
available data," Woods said.
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in December proposed
listing polar bears as threatened, defined in law as likely to
become endangered in the foreseeable future. The more drastic
listing under the law is "endangered" — in danger of extinction
throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
Kempthorne's decision was forced by a petition filed by the
Center for Biological Diversity of Joshua Tree, California, which
said polar bears could become extinct by the end of the century
because their sea ice habitat is melting away due to global
Polar bears are considered marine
mammals because they spend most of their lives on sea ice. They
use it as a platform to hunt their main prey, ringed seals, plus
other ice seals. In Alaska, females use sea ice to den or to reach
denning areas on land.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is required by
law to render its listing decision by next January.
Conservationists hope — and Alaska business interests fear —
that designating polar bears as threatened due to global warming
will carry a huge economic cost, forcing federal agencies around
the country to consider the affect on polar bears before granting
permits that would increase greenhouse gas emissions.
"The listing likely will force anyone in America whose
business requires the emission of greenhouse gases to go through
an additional layer of consultation with the Fish and Wildlife
Service, creating delays and expenses," said Marilyn Crockett,
deputy director of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, in
testimony last month.
If polar bears are listed, agency officials will form a team
to formulate a recovery plan.
"If we were going to go forward and propose critical
habitat, economic impact would be part of that formula," Woods
Sea ice off the coast of Alaska and elsewhere in the Arctic
last winter continued its downward trend. The University of
Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center reported last week
that Arctic sea ice this winter just missed setting the record for
fewest square miles (kilometers) covered since monitoring by
satellite began in 1979. In recent years, winter sea ice has
fallen by at least 600,000 square miles (1,554,000 square
kilometers), double the size of Texas.
Critics of additional protections for polar bears say a
listing would be the first for a species that is healthy in
numbers and distribution.
Obtaining an accurate count of polar bears has been a
challenge due to the harsh conditions and remoteness of their
habitat. A U.S. Geological Survey report released in November
indicated that the Beaufort Sea polar bear population has
experienced a significant drop in cub survival. The study also
determined that adult males weighed less and had smaller skulls
than those captured and measured two decades ago
A spokesman for the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service declined to comment on Nunavut's stand.
Canada in Brief
Nunavut denies polar bears endangered
-- The government of Nunavut has added its voice to those
opposing a U.S. plan to list polar bears as a threatened
Environment Minister Patterk Netser suggested the
bears are being used as a "political tool" for
environmental groups trying to force a change in U.S.
He said that although climate change has led to
melting of sea ice since 1979, there is no proof the
world's polar bear populations are threatened.
He said polar bears in Nunavut
are abundant and appear to be able to withstand current
Nunavut against plan to
list polar bears as endangered
IQALUIT, Nunavut (CP) - The latest salvo in what
could become a long and bitter fight over
listing polar bears as a threatened species has
been fired by the government of Nunavut.
Nunavut has made its opposition to such a
move official by submitting a response to the
United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Late last year, the U.S. government said it
would consider listing polar bears as threatened
under the Endangered Species Act. It justified
the review by suggesting climate change is
slowly melting the Arctic sea ice, robbing the
bears of their habitat. Some studies have
suggested that summer sea ice could be gone by
the middle of this century.
Nunavut's submission acknowledges that the
climate has warmed and the sea ice has
diminished since about 1979. But the territory
also says neither science nor observation by the
Inuit has provided evidence to support listing
all of the world's populations of polar bears as
"Nunavut has a very effective polar bear
management system," Environment Minister Patterk
Netser said in a release Thursday. "We are
managing our polar bear populations on a
sustainable basis, in a way that provides
economic benefits to Nunavummiut (residents of
Most polar bear populations in Nunavut are
abundant and appear to be able to withstand
current hunting levels, said Netser, who
suggested the U.S. move has more to do with
politics than concern for the bears.
"Polar bears have become a political tool for
environmental groups trying to force a change in
U.S. climate change policy," he said. "We oppose
the listing of polar bears because it is
currently unwarranted, highly speculative and
will hurt Inuit and our economy."
But the issue has nothing to do with current
numbers, said a polar bear expert.
"People are trying to muddy the waters," said
Andy Derocher, a professor of biological
sciences at the University of Alberta.
"Nobody in the polar bear world has ever
objected to the notion that some populations are
large. It's the longer-term context for the
species that's really the main issue of the
The numbers now are fine, but may not be in
the future, said Derocher.
The concern is that in the next 45 years,
which is about three generations, the loss of
sea ice will cripple the bear population and
diminish it to that of an endangered species.
"If the projection models . . . come to
fruition, it's very clear that polar bears have
a very high likelihood of slipping from a
threatened status into an endangered status in
many parts of the Arctic."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has
received more than 500,000 comments so far on
the matter, said Scott Schliebe, a spokesman in
The service will not reply to anyone at this
point, he said, although each comment will need
to be evaluated and informally responded to
during the public comment process.
With more than a half-million submissions,
the Fish and Wildlife Service has its work cut
out for it, and there are looming deadlines.
"Our ultimate deadline is January of 2008 and
it's a statutory requirement for the agency to
make a final decision," said Schliebe.
"Obviously we've got some other internal
deadlines that precede that."
A complete review of the comments and draft
legislation will likely be released this fall.
Many of the submissions so far have been
electronically generated as a result of
environment websites and those predictably are
supporting the government initiative, said
|2-13-01 - DREAM - I spent a long time
looking up the news about Bigfoot, (which I really do) and posting it
on a page about the existence of the humanoid ...
|I knew immediately the donkey was named
Eeyore as soon as I saw it. I was afraid of large animals, but
I was determined to see what was going on in the ...
|04/29/06 16:37 EDT. Copyright 2006 The
Associated Press. ALL ABOUT WHALES · DOLPHINS IN THE WILD · EEYORE
SAYS · DREAMS OF THE GREAT EARTHCHANGES MAIN INDEX.
|THE PLIGHT OF THE CAPTIVE DOLPHINS ·
EEYORE'S COMPLAINT - ANIMAL ABUSE · ELEPHANTS ...
EEYORE'S COMPLAINT - ANIMAL ABUSE. Most of the animals exhibited
|EEYORE'S COMPLAINT - ANIMAL ABUSE
· ELEPHANTS IN CAPTIVITY · WHALES - DOLPHINS - PORPOISES · CATS -
DREAMS - AND MYTHOLOGY · PUPPY MILLS AND DOG ABUSE ...
... EEYORE EEYORE'S COMPLAINT EFG - Environmental Fund
for Georgia EFIEA - European Forum on ...
|I knew immediately the donkey was named
Eeyore as soon as I saw it. ... EEYORE EEYORE'S
COMPLAINT EFG - Environmental Fund for Georgia EFIEA ...
|EEYORE'S COMPLAINT - ANIMAL ABUSE
· ELEPHANTS IN CAPTIVITY · WHALES - DOLPHINS - PORPOISES · CATS -
DREAMS - AND MYTHOLOGY ...
|EEYORE'S COMPLAINT - ANIMAL ABUSE
· ELEPHANT ABUSE · PUPPY MILLS AND DOG ABUSE · ALL THEIR IS TO KNOW
ABOUT WHALES · THE PLIGHT OF THE DOLPHINS ...
save_the_endangered_manatees.htm ... Among the Asian elephants,
... www.greatdreams.com/eeyore/elecruel.htm ...
|EEYORE'S COMPLAINT · ELEPHANTS IN
CAPTIVITY · PUPPY MILLS AND DOG ABUSE · THE PLIGHT OF THE CAPTIVE
DOLPHINS · ALL ABOUT WHALES ...
|... a second offense provision, a
violation is a High Misdemeanor. Misdemeanor. Misdemeanor. $750.
$1000. 6 months. 1 year. Return to Eeyore's Complaints.
|Though several species of dolphins and
other whales are held in captivity, most of them are bottlenose
dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), and most of the ...
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dormant, shutting down some of their bodily activities during dry
periods. ... www.greatdreams.com/eeyore/gecko.htm ...
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sport electronic identification ... www.greatdreams.com/eeyore/birds-and-bees.htm
|The death toll in the tsunami disaster
soared past 100000 today - and is ... www.greatdreams.com/eeyore/birds-and-bees.htm
|Many also discuss the web of violence in
which they ... www.greatdreams.com/eeyore/eeyore.htm -
56k - Cached - Similar pages ...
|Behind the door a white calf came to the
door and stuck it's nose out, and behind it was a purple donkey I knew
was named Eeyore as soon as I saw it. ...
... www.greatdreams.com/eeyore/goodall.htm. Dowsing with
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CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IN SCHOOLS ... AFRICA FROM http://www.teacher.co.za/9903/cane.html.
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DIRE MESSAGES FROM JESUS AND HIS MOTHER MARY Lose no time as the flood
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|So I turned the entire vending apparatus
over, sudenly happy to be able to get at now ... www.greatdreams.com/eeyore/gecko.htm
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www.greatdreams.com/weather/tsunami_in_our_future.htm. EARTHQUAKE IN
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DREAMS OF THE GREAT EARTHCHANGES -
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- 61k - Cached - Similar pages ...
THE TRUTH ABOUT "SARS" ... Scientists have already ruled out a link
between SARS and bird flu, also a viral ...