Wildlife Service: Stop Arctic ice from melting or polar bears won't survive

Polar bears need ice, and the ice is melting.

If something isn't done about climate change, polar bears may no longer be able to survive in the wild.

That's what the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said Monday when it released its final Conservation Management Plan for the Arctic mammals, which are threatened due to the loss of sea ice.

The amount of sea ice that's covering the Arctic has been at record lows as the Arctic warms. That's been caused by an increase in greenhouse gases globally. If the ice keeps disappearing, it could mean the estimated 26,000 polar bears who depend on it to survive will disappear.

“Short of action that effectively addresses the primary cause of diminishing sea ice, it is unlikely that polar bears will be recovered," the plan says.

But there's a problem. The Washington Post says global climate change is "completely out of the control of Fish and Wildlife."

However, the paper says the future for polar bears is only grim if international governments do nothing to address global warming. Things like the Paris Agreement give the mammals a slightly better chance at surviving, the paper says.

Not everyone is that positive, though. The Center for Biological Diversity called the plan "toothless" for not doing more to address climate change.

“This recovery plan is just too risky for the polar bear,” Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “Recovery plans work, but only if they truly address the threats to species. Sadly that simply isn’t the case with this polar bear plan.”

Arctic warming is the main issue standing in the way of polar bears' survival, but the wildlife service's plan also discusses other efforts that could help the animals, and many are already underway. Among them: reducing human-bear conflicts, managing how many polar bears can be hunted, protecting the bears' denning habitat, minimizing the risk of contamination from oil spills, and increased monitoring to determine if these efforts are working, a news release says.

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