WASHINGTON D.C. – World Wildlife Fund (WWF) expressed disappointment over the announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on January 7, 2008 that it will delay by up to one month a final decision on whether to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
“The delay in this important decision is puzzling,” said Dr Sybille Klenzendorf, director of WWF’s species program. “A compelling body of cutting-edge science and our projects on the ground tell us that polar bears already face a tentative future — we see no reason to postpone this decision.”
Experts believe that two-thirds of polar bear populations could be lost by 2050. The scientific evidence is clear that polar bears are threatened by climate change-induced loss of sea ice.
“The U.S.—one of the leading producers of carbon emissions—should be showing leadership in protecting species that are impacted by climate change,” said Margaret Williams, managing director of WWF’s office in Alaska. “WWF hopes the final USFWS decision favors a listing of polar bears as threatened, which will in turn allow for a suite of activities to be implemented. We need that to happen as soon as possible."
WWF has been actively engaged in polar bear conservation throughout the Arctic, in all of the countries inhabited by polar bears.