In response to today’s draft Polar Bear Conservation Management Plan announced by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued the following statement from Margaret Williams, managing director of Arctic programs:
“The greatest long-term threat to polar bears is the loss of their sea ice habitat in a warming Arctic, and reducing greenhouse gases is the only way to curb that threat. By calling for emissions reductions in the conservation plan, the Obama Administration is moving in the right direction.
“In addition to climate change, the Administration must take into account a more immediate threat to polar bears: potential spills from offshore oil and gas development. Oil spills can travel for miles in harsh Arctic waters and foul key polar bear habitat, further stressing the Arctic ecosystem.
“At this moment, Royal Dutch Shell is en route to the Arctic and poised to drill without proven technologies to contain a spill. The draft polar bear recovery plan does not adequately address the clear and present threat offshore drilling poses to the Arctic and should be reevaluated. The federal government’s approval of Shell’s Arctic Exploration Plan is ill-considered and should be reevaluated as well.”