Russia and other world governments need to take dramatic action to save polar bears from extinction. According to Polar Bears International's chief scientist Steve Amstrup:
“We generally expect to lose two-thirds of the world's bears by midcentury and possibly the rest by the end of the century if we don't mitigate the rise in greenhouse gases."
Four of the world's 19 polar bear populations make their home in Russian waters and on its coasts. Experts do not know the exact size of these populations, but it's clear that Russia's polar bears face many threats.
- Climate change is is melting the sea ice polar bears need to survive, forcing the animals to spend more time on land and away from the seals that are the staple of their diets.
- Poaching remains a significant threat despite Russia's ban on polar bear hunting. A 2013 report found that as many as 200 Russian polar bears are killed each year by poachers.
- Arctic oil and gas exploration will present a growing threat to polar bears. Melting sea ice opens new areas to oil and gas drilling. Such operations fuel climate change as fossil fuels are recovered and burned. More drilling would also increase the risk of polar bear-killing oil spills and create the need for more onshore drilling infrastructure in areas where polar bear mothers birth their young.
Help save Russia's polar bears. Urge President Vladimir Putin to take concrete action to save them.
We the undersigned request that you do everything in your power to protect Russia's polar bears from extinction in the wild. Specifically, we ask that you:
Embrace efforts to reduce the carbon emissions that fuel climate change. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon that increases Arctic temperatures, melting the sea ice polar bears use to hunt for food.
Adopt a cautious approach to oil and gas drilling in the Arctic. Melting sea ice may open new areas to oil and gas drilling, but such operations fuel climate change as fossil fuels are recovered and burned. More drilling also increases the risk of polar bear-killing oil spills and creates the need for more onshore drilling infrastructure in areas where polar bear mothers birth their young.
Crack down on polar bear poaching. Too many bears are still lost to poaching.
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