Wildlife trade experts say climate, not commercial trade, is primary threat to polar bears



Posted on 29 October 2012  | 
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A new report from the wildlife trade monitoring organization TRAFFIC concludes that the major threat to polar bears is not international commercial trade, but habitat loss due the rapid melting of their preferred sea ice habitat.

"Icon on Ice: International Trade and Management of Polar Bears" gathers the best available information on the legal market for polar bear skins and other parts, and has been peer reviewed by international experts.

Download the report

"The retreat of sea-ice habitat, driven by runaway global climate change, is by far the leading threat to polar bears", says WWF polar bear specialist Geoff York. "The most urgent need for polar bear conservation at this time is an effective and strong climate change deal that keeps global average temperature increases under 2 degrees C and sets a clear path towards an equitable and sustainable low carbon economy."

Countries with polar bear populations are committed by international treaty to conserve polar bears and protect their habitat, and have identified climate change as the primary threat to address.

The TRAFFIC report makes recommendations to ensure trade remains sustainable, including better monitoring of polar bear populations, and improvements in trade data reporting and tracking, education, and enforcement to prevent illegal trade and poaching.

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