Endangered Species Biodiversity Case Study Term Paper

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The polar bears' most frequent spot is the area where ice meets the water as it makes it easier for them to hunt seals from the water in Arctic ice. Hence, Polar bears are particularly specialized for the life at the Arctic and he spends most of his time on ice till he dies.

The ice sheets at Arctic contain certain areas of water that disappear when the weather changes and summers arrive. Due to these changes, seals migrate to the different areas so polar bears have to follow them in order to survive. In many areas, ice melts completely in summers hence forcing polar bears to move to the land and wait for the summers to end until the next freeze-up occurs. The Arctic ice-recession is harmful to the polar bears as the life of polar bears depends on the sea ice. Due to the global warming, ice has been melting at an increased rate now than it did many years back. This trend means that polar bears in these areas have now less time to hunt the seals resulting in shortage of food. This will result in decrease in population of the polar bears. The fragmentation of ice also forces bears to swim longer distances hence utilizing the stored fat in their bodies. Moreover, the ice is also essential for the population since female polar bears build breeding den in the ice for giving birth to their young. Hence, reduction in sea ice has proved to be detrimental to polar bears because their lives completely depend on sea ice.

Natural and/or human impacts

Humans have a very negative impact on the polar bears. The greenhouse gas emissions are accelerating the climatic change and the Arctic ice is melting at the high rate than the previous years. In addition to that, many bears that step on human territory are killed by the humans during the human-bear encounter. Moreover, other human related issues such as pollution, new human settlements, construction of roads and industries are also threatening the existence of the polar bear today.

Conservation strategies - conservation, protection, restoration etc.

The growing concern about threats posed to polar bears led to the First International Scientific Meeting on the Polar Bear in 1965. It was attended by representatives of all the countries that comprise of polar bear populations i.e. Canada, United States, Denmark, Norway and Russia. This meeting was one of the few initiatives that set the stage for additional research work and conferences on this issue. Eventually, this meeting resulted in an International Agreement on Conservation of the Polar Bears in 1973. (Aars, Derocher and Lunn, 2006) in this agreement, it was decided that these five above mentioned nations will take measures to protect the habitat of polar bears especially their den sites where female give birth to cubs and feed them. This agreement also decided to ban hunting of bears, to increase the research efforts and to exchange the results that are necessary for coordinating research work.

Each nation has established its own regulations regarding conservation strategies utilizing the data collected from the international communities. One of the conservation strategies includes the Endangered Species Act (1973) which is administered by the U.S. Department of Interior and Commerce. It helps to prevent the extinction of animals in the United States. In 2008, polar bear was also added as "threatened" species to the Unites States list of Endangered Species due to the loss of ice habitat (Seigel, Cummings, Moritz and Nowicki, 2007). Polar bears in United States are also protected by the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972). The main objective of this Act is to keep the stability of marine ecosystem and to maintain the population of marine mammals. This Act also prohibits the import and export of marine animals including the polar bear unless a legalized permit is issued for this.

Canada which comprises of two third of the global polar bear population is also taking considerable steps to conserve this incredible species. Canada conserves polar bears through the collaborated effort by its provinces, territories and regional wildlife bodies. This grass root approach helps in coordinating the activities and investments across the whole country where it is ensured that each body is playing its part properly to conserve this species. This approach has also helped Canada in meeting successfully the provisions of the International Agreement on Conservation of the Polar Bears (1973). The polar bears have also been tagged as a species of special concern in 2011 under the Species at Risk Act. This act is a strong legislation to protect the wildlife in the country. Moreover, Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA) also manage the import and export of live polar bears and their hides.

Identify agencies and laws to guide protection

The provisions in the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears provide the guidance for the conservation of polar bears. These provisions have been vital for stimulating governments to carry out necessary actions and to support the research work that is necessary for managing the efforts carried out for conservation. This is then coordinated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). (Norris, Resentrater and Martin, 2002) the IUCN is a conservative organization that connects the government and non-government agencies and other independent entities for encouraging the efforts towards conservation. The Polar Bear Specialist Group works under ICUN's Species Survival Commission. This group helps to coordinate the research efforts carried out by five polar bear nations. This group also works to ensure that the terms of the agreement should be met and coordinated research and management actions are carried out.

Bibliography

Aars, J., Andrew E. Derocher and Nicholas J. Lunn eds. Proceedings of the Fourtheen Working Meeting of the IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group. Rep. IUCN Species Survival Commission, 2006. Web. 24 Sept. 2012.

Norris, Stefan, Lynn Rosentrater, and Pal Martin. Polar Bear at Risk. Rep. WWF, May 2002. Web. 24 Sept. 2012.

Seigel, Kassie, Brendan Cummings, Anna Moritz, and Brian Nowicki. Not Too Late to Save the Polar Bear: A Rapid Action Plan to Address the Arctic Meltdown. Rep. Climate, Air, and Energy Program, Center for Biological Diversity, 17 Oct. 2007. Web. 24 Sept. 2012. .

Tynan, C.T, and D.P DeMaster. "Observations and Predictions of Arctic Climatic Change: Potential Effects on Marine Mammals." Arctic 50.4 (1997): 308-22. JSTOR. Web. 24 Sept. 2012.

Miller, Webb, and Stephen C. Schuster. Polar and Brown Bear Genomes…[continue]

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