Posts Tagged ‘Polar Bears’

Oil Companies Get OK to Annoy Polar Bears

June 17, 2008

Less than a month after declaring polar bears a threatened species because of global warming, the Bush administration is giving oil companies permission to annoy and potentially harm them in the pursuit of oil and natural gas.

The Fish and Wildlife Service issued regulations this week providing legal protection to seven oil companies planning to search for oil and gas in the Chukchi Sea off the northwestern coast of Alaska if “small numbers” of polar bears or Pacific walruses are incidentally harmed by their activities over the next five years.

Environmentalists said the new regulations give oil companies a blank check to harass the polar bear.

About 2,000 of the 25,000 polar bears in the Arctic live in and around the Chukchi Sea, where the government in February auctioned off oil leases to ConocoPhillips Co., Shell Oil Co. and five other companies for $2.6 billion. Over objections from environmentalists and members of Congress, the sale occurred before the bear was classified as threatened in May.

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Polar bear killed after 300km trek

June 12, 2008

Graphic footage of the first polar bear seen in Iceland in 20 years being shot dead by police has been posted on the internet.

The bear, an adult male weighing around 250kg, was presumed to have swum some 300km from Greenland or from a distant chunk of Arctic ice to Skagafjordur in northern Iceland.

It was planned to sedate the animal and move it back to Greenland but the police decided it was safest to kill the bear immediately.

“There was fog up in the hills and we took the decision to kill the bear before it could disappear into the fog”, said police spokesman Petur Bjornsson.

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Animals fare better in zoos as experts learn more

May 30, 2008

Scientists are learning more about how zoo animals feel and how a toy or a little training can sometimes help cut the endless pacing and other repetitive behaviours that are often assumed to be signs of distress.

Some big cats want a high perch from which to view visitors, polar bears want to scratch for hidden caches of food, and male barn swallows could use a tail extension to appeal to potential mates, according to experts from zoos and universities meeting on Friday at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo.

Visitors who see a cheetah pacing or a polar bear swimming in circles might assume they are stressed by confinement. But they may simply be expending excess energy or soothing themselves, experts said interviews at the symposium.

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Bush’s polar bear legal disaster

May 23, 2008

As expected, the U. S. Department of the Interior added the polar bear to the list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act last week. Even with the Bush administration’s attempt to render the ruling toothless, this action will almost surely go down in history as the turning point in the global-warming debate.

The department concluded that the past and projected melting of sea ice in the Arctic poses an immediate threat to the polar bear’s habitat. It pointed to greenhouse-gas-induced climate change as a primary cause for the recession of the sea ice, and emphasized that oil and gas development in the Arctic isn’t the reason the polar bear is threatened.

Make no mistake, within a year or two, we can expect the polar bear to begin influencing everyday U. S. economic life.

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Protecting Polar Bears Must Include Mitigating Global Warming, Group Argues

May 23, 2008

Following a three-year legal battle to protect the polar bear from extinction due to global warming, three environmental groups won protection for the species with the announcement today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is listing the polar bear as a federally “threatened” species.

The decision was issued in response to a 2005 scientific petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and was required by a court order in a lawsuit brought by the groups to end the administration’s delay in issuing a final Endangered Species Act listing decision.

While the polar bear listing is one of the administration’s clearest acknowledgments to date of the urgent threat posed by global warming, the administration is simultaneously attempting to reduce the protections the bear will receive under the Act. It claims in the listing decision that federal agencies need not consider the impact of global warming pollution on the polar bear; it has also proposed a separate regulation reducing the protections the polar bear would otherwise receive.

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Alaska Will Sue to Block U.S. Listing of Polar Bears as ‘Threatened’

May 23, 2008

The state of Alaska will sue to challenge the recent listing of polar bears as a threatened species, Gov. Sarah Palin announced Wednesday.

She and other Alaska elected officials fear a listing will cripple oil and gas development in prime polar bear habitat off the state’s northern and northwestern coasts.

Palin argued that there is not enough evidence to support a listing. Polar bears are well-managed and their population has dramatically increased over 30 years as a result of conservation, she said.

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US lists polar bear as threatened species

May 14, 2008

Government officials say the Interior Department has decided to protect the polar bear as a threatened species because of global warming.

The officials told The Associated Press the bears are threatened by the decline in Arctic sea ice. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the official announcement was to come from Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. He scheduled a news conference Wednesday.

The action comes a day before a court-imposed deadline on deciding whether the bear should be put under the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act.

The department will cite studies by its own scientists saying the decline in Arctic sea ice could result in two-thirds of the polar bears disappearing by mid-century.

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Federal Polar Bear Research Critically Flawed, Forecasting Expert Asserts

May 12, 2008

Research done by the U.S. Department of the Interior to determine if global warming threatens the polar bear population is so flawed that it cannot be used to justify listing the polar bear as an endangered species, according to a study being published later this year in Interfaces, a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

On April 30, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ordered the Interior Department to decide by May 15 whether polar bears should be listed under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

Professor J. Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School says, “To list a species that is currently in good health as an endangered species requires valid forecasts that its population would decline to levels that threaten its viability. In fact, the polar bear populations have been increasing rapidly in recent decades due to hunting restrictions. Assuming these restrictions remain, the most appropriate forecast is to assume that the upward trend would continue for a few years, then level off.

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Trouble In Paradise: Global Warming A Greater Danger To Tropical Species

May 7, 2008

Polar bears fighting for survival in the face of a rapid decline of polar ice have made the Arctic a poster child for the negative effects of climate change. But new research shows that species living in the tropics likely face the greatest peril in a warmer world.

A team led by University of Washington scientists has found that while temperature changes will be much more extreme at high latitudes, tropical species have a far greater risk of extinction with warming of just a degree or two. That is because they are used to living within a much smaller temperature range to begin with, and once temperatures get beyond that range many species might not be able to cope.

“There’s a strong relationship between your physiology and the climate you live in,” said Joshua Tewksbury, a UW assistant professor of biology. “In the tropics many species appear to be living at or near their thermal optimum, a temperature that lets them thrive. But once temperature gets above the thermal optimum, fitness levels most likely decline quickly and there may not be much they can do about it.”

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When little things that rule world are lost

April 14, 2008

There are 6.5 billion people in the world today, three times as many as 50 years ago. There are undoubtedly three billion fewer insects, the forgotten creatures that maintain the fabric of life.

These include bees, butterflies, moths and all flying mites and invertebrates and sea creatures that inhabit earth and slime. Not many people, excepting scientists who watch and count, pay much attention.

Almost everybody is aware of the travails of the major star species such as polar bears, pandas and tigers. We are reminded on a daily basis of their endangerment. There was a scare about bees last year but honey is still in the supermarkets so the bee colony collapse is more or less old news.

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Mystery of the missing zoo animals still unsolved

March 28, 2008

The Berlin zoo is under pressure to explain the fate of hundreds of animals which have vanished amid claims they were slaughtered and in some cases turned into potency-boosting drugs.

Claudia Hammerling, a Green party politician, backed by several animal rights organisations, alleges the zoo’s director, Bernhard Blaszkiewitz, sold the animals.

She claims to have evidence that four Asian black bears and a hippopotamus were transported to the Belgian town of Wortel, which has no zoo, but which does have an abattoir.

According to Ms Hammerling these animals were slaughtered. She said the systematic “overproduction of animals” at zoos, designed to attract more visitors, was to blame.

Ms Hammerling said she also knew of several tigers and leopards from Berlin that ended up in a tiger breeding farm in China that promoted itself as a purveyor of traditional potency-boosting medicines made from big cats. She alleges the animals’ remains were turned into drugs.

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Berlin Zoo director accused of selling animals for Chinese medicine

March 22, 2008

The director of the world famous Berlin Zoo has been accused of overbreeding animals and selling the “spares” to be slaughtered and used in Chinese medicines.

Bernhard Blaszkiewitz is under pressure to quit following the criminal complaint by a leading Green politician that he allegedly illegally sold the animals for slaughter for profit.

He strenuously denies the allegations but they are now being considered by the Berlin public prosecutor who will decide on whether charges will follow.

A pygmy hippopotamus and a family of bears are cited among the animals that were allegedly traded to be killed. It was claimed they ended up at a Belgian slaughterhouse.

The allegations are a public relations disaster for the zoo following a huge rise in its profile over the past year with the celebrity of the polar bear Knut, the cub abandoned by its mother to be raised by human hand. Knut has turned the zoo into Berlin’s biggest tourist attraction and earned it £6 million.

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Knut and Britney: Is there Any Hope?

March 5, 2008

Both fallen pop star Britney Spears and fallen pop environmental icon Knut the Polar Bear have recently been diagnosed by non-experts in the media as suffering from mental illness. And each of their respective downfalls were probably perfectly predictable and possibly preventable. But the real question remains: Who is more likely to come out healthy on the other side? Either? Radar reviews the similarities in their tortured case histories …

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Knut the cute polar bear is turning into a ‘psychopath’

March 5, 2008

From this:

To this:

 

Knut the polar bear is a “psychopath”, experts warn.

The world’s most famous polar bear has become addicted to human company and will never mate, it is claimed.

The 13-month-old polar bear is Berlin Zoo’s most famous resident.

But zoologist Peter Arras described Knut as a “psychopath” to The Independent newspaper.

German activist Frank Albrecht said that animals born in captivity end up being divorced from nature and turn into hyperactive, disturbed freaks, because they become too dependent on man.

He said: “Knut is a problem bear who has become addicted to human beings.”

Knut caused a worldwide sensation when he was born last March.

But since then he has been at the centre of a major debate about the rights of caged animals.

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For more animal-esque music, news, and issues, tune in to Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo online at www.thecapstone.ua.edu, Sunday nights 8-10 central.

Video shows zoo animals’ dismal digs

February 16, 2008

 

San Francisco Zoo animals pace in their pens, swim in their own waste and live out their days in boredom and squalor, according to a video shown Thursday night to the city Animal Control and Welfare Commission at City Hall.

A polar bear’s white fur is splotched with green algae. A giraffe gnaws a hole in his barn in boredom. And a gray seal has been swimming in the same tiny pool for decades.

“This is just pathetic,” said animal rights activist Deniz Bolbol, who had been invited to show the video on behalf of Mill Valley’s In Defense of Animals group. “What are we teaching our children when we bring them to a place like this?”

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Polar Bears Need Urgent Protection, WWF and Conservation Groups Testify

January 30, 2008

baby-polar-bear.jpg

Margaret Williams, WWFs Director of the Bering Sea ecoregion program, called for urgent action to save polar bears at the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing entitled Examining Threats and Protections for the Polar Bear on Wednesday, January 30, 2008. The hearing was convened to examine the status of and legal protections for the polar bear, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the status of listing the species under the act.

Listing polar bears under the ESA is a last resort, and in essence, signifies a failure of policy and management to date, said Williams. We have known for some time of the dangers of global warming, and should have acted more expeditiously to address them. We need to closely scrutinize and prevent all actions that may add further stress to the polar bear, including conducting oil and gas leasing in prime polar bear habitat.

While WWF and Alaska Wilderness League applaud congressional interest in the plight of the polar bears, we join the conservation community in urging for the immediate listing of the polar bear and calling for a dramatic decrease in green house gases, the source of global warming that is melting polar bear habitat and transforming the Arctic…

…Analyses recently published by the US Geological Survey show that by mid-21st century, two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population could be lost, mainly due to loss of sea ice. As this sea ice habitat decreases, the entire food chain will be affected from the tiniest plankton to the forage fish, the ringed seal, and the king of the north, the polar bear.

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