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In most areas, they come ashore when ice melts and rely on fat stores until the ice refreezes so they can go back out to hunt. In extreme cases—especially females with cubs— they may face starvation.

Polar Bear

Traditional prey species may be less accessible in a new sea ice environment, and seals that use the ice are predicted to fare poorly in the warming Arctic region. Climate change is also resulting in more habitat fragmentation. As Arctic ice melts, polar bears are affected by increased shipping activities and a rise in opportunities for oil and gas development. As climate change forces polar bears to spend longer time onshore, they come in contact more often with Arctic coastal communities and others working in the Arctic. Unfortunately, these interactions sometimes end badly for both humans and bears.

In the Arctic, most industrial development has been on relatively small pieces of land. As summer sea ice retreats, a new ocean is emerging, which allows more opportunities for industrial development at sea and on larger parcels of land. At the same time, the retreating ice is resulting in more polar bears spending longer periods on land. Offshore petroleum installations and operations in the Arctic are expected to increase in number.

This expansion would likely affect polar bears and their habitat in many ways, including the following:.

Increased Arctic shipping represents a risk to polar bears. As traffic by barges, oil tankers and cargo ships in Arctic waters increases, so do the risk of oil spills and human disturbance to polar bears. Many Arctic areas have strong polar bear management and monitoring.

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As climate change forces polar bears to spend longer time onshore, they come in contact more often with Arctic communities. Unfortunately, these interactions sometimes end badly for humans and bears.

In Russia and Alaska, WWF addresses this challenge by supporting local efforts to protect people and polar bears. Watch this video to learn more about the benefits of involving local people to protect polar bears and communities. WWF advocates directly for governments to recognize and mitigate the effects of climate change on polar bears. At meetings with governments whose countries are in the polar bear range, WWF has successfully pushed for a statement formally recognizing the urgent need for an effective global response that will address the challenges of climate change.

WWF has also successfully advocated for the creation of an international polar bear management plan. WWF supports community projects in Alaska and Russia to prevent unintended and potentially fatal encounters between polar bears and people. Local polar bear patrol teams help keep towns and bears safe. Better lighting near public places, electric fencing, bear-proof food storage containers and warning plans for when bears enter communities all help reduce conflict.

We bring Arctic communities together to share their expertise on effective nonlethal deterrence methods. Such methods continue to prove effective. WWF and our partners are working to understand the impact that different threats, such as climate change and the expansion of industry in the Arctic, are having on different polar bear populations. For many years, we have run a polar bear tracker , using data from WWF-supported researcher teams to monitor some of the animals by satellite. By tracking these bears, scientists can map a polar bear's range and examine how habitat use may change in response to shifting sea ice.

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This information reveals changes and adaptations over time. WWF also provides funding for polar bear researchers to travel to Russia and the US to share and exchange scientific information about polar bears with other researchers. We offer technical expertise on oil spill prevention and response. We also advocate for the highest development standards through national and international venues. WWF collaborates with scientists, conservationists and local people to oppose oil and gas development in areas whose ecological value is far too great for risking exposure to spills.


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To help maritime vessels stay clear of ecologically fragile places, WWF is preparing sensitivity maps for areas of the Arctic. We have also offered best practices for shipping in the Arctic and continue to work at the International Maritime Organization on a polar code that would make Arctic shipping safer. Scientists believe that a natural safety net of ice in the High Arctic of Canada and Greenland covering million acres—or twice the size of Texas—may persist longer than the ice anywhere else. Since , WWF has been working with partners to sustainably preserve the rich biodiversity of this region.

This plan could provide many benefits, such as conserving habitat for Arctic ice dependent species and protecting the cultural heritage and economies of local communities. Pledge to work together to solve the world's greatest environmental problems, including threats like climate change. Make a symbolic polar bear adoption to help save some of the world's most endangered animals from extinction and support WWFs conservation efforts.

World Wildlife Fund 24th Street, N. Washington, DC Search Search w. There are now 41, species on the IUCN Red List, and 16, of them are endangered species threatened with extinction. This is up from 16, last year.

This includes both endangered animals and endangered plants. The total number of extinct species has reached and a further 65 are only found in captivity or in cultivation. In the last years, human activity has forced over species into extinction. The current rate of extinction appears to be hundreds, or perhaps even thousands, of times higher than the background rate.

It is difficult to be precise because most of the endangered species which are becoming disappearing species have never been identified by scientists. Extinctions are a natural part of evolutionary processes, but through most of the history of life on Earth, biological diversity has been increasing. Periodically, however, major changes in the conditions on Earth have caused the collapse of living systems, and large percentages of species a have become extinct.