Polar Bear Deserves Protection Under Endangered Species Act

Threat to Bears ‘Tip of the Iceberg for Global Warming Harm to Wildlife

12-18-2006 // Aileo Weinmann

Statement by Larry Schweiger
President & CEO, National Wildlife Federation
On US Fish & Wildlife Service Decision to Propose Listing
Polar Bear as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act

WASHINGTON, DC -- "This is a wake up call. It's haunting to visualize polar bears literally drowning from global warming, unable to swim the increasingly longer distances between declining sea ice and land. But this is exactly what scientists are documenting.

"Polar bears are on a trajectory to extinction because of global warming. Unfortunately, the bear's decline is the tip of the iceberg, an early sign of the dangers America's wildlife faces with global warming.

"For polar bears, global warming is not a future possibility; it is right now causing declines in their condition and populations because of the shortened period they are able to forage on the ice for their primary prey--seals.

"Global warming is harming wildlife throughout America.

"In Minnesota, heat-stressed moose are declining. In the West, critical snowpack that supplies cold water for trout streams and salmon runs is declining. Forest landscapes are being ravaged by unprecedented wildfires. As sea levels rise, coastal wetlands are being submerged.

"U.S. Fish & Wildlife has done the right thing by officially declaring that the polar bear deserves protection as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

"Polar bears are exquisitely adapted for living and hunting on sea ice. The global warming pollution that's melting the Arctic is harming polar bears. And the urgent threats to wildlife extend far beyond the Arctic.

"The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration listed elkhorn and staghorn coral as the first coral species threatened under the Endangered Species Act, in part because of global warming. Warmer water from global warming is destroying coral reefs. Similarly, global warming pollution is literally melting the polar bear's habitat out from under it.

"To change the forecast for wildlife, we must reduce global warming pollution.

"We can solve this problem. We have solutions. Americans want a new energy future that breaks the oil addiction, creates more American jobs and develops clean, renewable energy sources that will benefit us all.

"We have a moral responsibility to solve this problem to protect wildlife for our children's future."

The National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

Immediate Release
December 28, 2006

Aileo Weinmann, National Wildlife Federation, 202-797-6801, weinmanna@nwf.org

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