Polar Bear: Threatened Or Not? Essay

1566 words - 6 pages

In recent decades, the global warming threat has captured the attention of the nation and the world. While the main focus began with concentrating on the effects this long-term natural crisis would have on the human population, select groups have worked to approach the topic in a manner that entails prevention in order to help other animal and plant species around the globe. One such organization is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has played a major role in the conservation of the polar bear species, one of the mammals most adversely affected by the recent climate changes. As more research has been conducted regarding the polar bears, scientific name Ursus Maritimus, the conclusions have been shocking. In 2008, the Department to the Interior listed the polar bear species as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 awarding it some protections mandated by the federal government (Wolfe). However, on January 5, 2011, Representative Donald Young proposed a bill in Congress in order to delist the polar bears as threatened, thus decreasing and even removing the conservation efforts that have been set in place over the past three years. The polar bear Species should remain listed under the Endangered Species Act because ice thickness has decreased 40 percent during the past 30 years thus reducing the polar bears’ critical environment, if current conditions continue the polar bear populations around the world may decrease by two thirds by mid century, and since the species has been protected under the Endangered Species Act the worldwide populations have experienced stabilization or growth in most circumstances.
First and foremost, the polar bear species should maintain its status as a threatened species because over the past three decades, ice thickness has experienced a dramatic decline of about 40 percent, therefore compromising the polar bears’ natural habitat. Part of the original decision to list the species as threatened came from the fact that the critical habitat of these animals had been greatly reduced due to natural and human activities. Critical habitat is defined as the “area that contains habitat features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and which may require special management considerations” (“Critical Habitat”). From this definition coupled with the results of numerous studies, it was found that polar bears have suffered from extreme declines in ice habitats where they carry out the majority of their lives. One study found that “ice thickness has decreased by 40% during the past 30 years and the average annual extent of ice coverage in the polar region has diminished substantially, with an average annual reduction of over 1 million square kilometers” (Schliebe) meaning in a comparatively short period of time the species has been subjected to substantial decreases in their environments. This habitat destruction is the major concern for the polar bear...

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