Are Polar Bears in Danger?

Are Polar Bears in Danger?

Are the polar bears headed for extinction? Should they be added to the endangered species list?

There has been a great deal of controversy regarding the listing of Polar Bears on the Endangered Species list. What a terrific opportunity for older children to learn about the process and explore the world polar bears live in, and how their rapidly changing environment will affect them.

A report has been created entitled, "Demographic and Ecological Perspectives on the Status of Polar Bears," by Dr. Mitchell Taylor and Dr. Martha Dowsley. I highly recommend you download the pdf and print it out for your students. They will find it very informative.

This report is also available in html here.

For a brief overview of the report read the Polar Bear Update on Right Side News.

Although two polar bear subpopulations (Western Hudson Bay and Southern Beaufort Sea) no longer appear to be viable due to reduction in sea ice habitat, polar bears as a species do not appear to be threatened by extinction in the foreseeable future from either a demographic or an ecological perspective.

Ecological perspectives that suggest the reductions to survival and recruitment rates for two populations (Western Hudson Bay and Southern Beaufort Sea) have occurred because of a long-term decline in sea ice due to climate warming. These populations occur where summer ice coverage is seasonal (WH) or divergent (SB).

The perspective that the impacts of sea ice reductions experienced in WH and SB subpopulations can be generalized to the remainder of the polar bear subpopulations depends entirely on the IPCC GCMs that predict continued reductions to sea ice due to CO2 driven climate change. Current and historical polar bear subpopulation performance demonstrates that viable polar bear subpopulations have persisted and generally increased throughout the current period of climate warming.

Are Polar Bears in Danger?

Additional Polar Bear Resources

What do you think?

Should polar bears be placed on the endangered species list?

Ask your student to write a short report giving their reasons behind their decision. I will post the responses here. Please be sure to include a first name or initials of the student, their age and/or grade, along with the state where you live.

Related Polar Bear Lessons & Unit Studies

Polar Bear Facts & Fun