Norway Summit to Limit Polar Bear Hunts

Legislation regulating the hunting of polar bears is to be reviewed at an international summit in Norway tomorrow. A reduction in hunting quotas is thought to be vital for the continued existence of the species as an increasing number of individuals begin to suffer from starvation.

Polar bears feast in spring, using sea ice as a hunting platform to hunt seals. However, the rising temperatures and earlier spring melts caused by climate change is reducing the bears prey availability and hunting success. Consequently, an increasing number of individuals are undernourished and suffer from starvation because they do not have enough fat reserves to see them through the winter months. Considering the effect climate change is having on the species, the scale of hunting by sportsmen and native Inuit people is no longer seen as sustainable.

Hunting is currently permitted in four out of the five states inhabited by polar bears: Canada, Greenland, Alaska in the US, and Russia. Norway is the only state where stalking is banned. Hunting is responsible for as many as 700 polar bear deaths every year, 3 per cent of the entire population.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) will present a ‘Species Action Plan’ for the polar bear at the summit. Geoff York, polar bear conservation co-ordinator for WWF’s Arctic Programme said:

“Climate change impacts are not formally taken into account with any of the polar bear populations which are harvested. We’re asking the parties who manage polar bears to incorporate climate change science into their management regimes… If we don’t do something meaningful soon, it will be very difficult for them to survive in the long run.”

Read more about this issue at the Independent News Website and the New Scientist Website