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WWF Says Polar Bear Mothers and Cubs Faced with Global Warming Need Help

WASHINGTON -- As mothers are honored across the United States on Mother's Day, World Wildlife Fund wants people to help some of most famously devoted mothers of the wild world, polar bear mothers and their cubs.

Polar bear mothers and cubs are among the most vulnerable to global warming caused by heat-trapping emissions of carbon dioxide, a by-product from the burning of fossil fuels -- coal, oil and gas -- for energy.

Global warming is linked to the disappearance of the arctic sea ice which polar bears depend on for their survival. The sea ice is forming later and breaking up earlier each year resulting in longer ice-free seasons. Polar bears rely on the sea ice to hunt their primary prey -- seals -- and build up critical fat stores to help them survive the ice-free season when they must fast while on land. Building up fat stores is particularly important for pregnant females and nursing mothers. Lower body weight in these mothers reduces their ability to nurse, leading to greater mortality among cubs.

If current warming trends continue unchecked, scientists now predict that by 2050 there may be no sea ice in the Arctic during summer months. Such a dramatic change in a unique ecosystem will have dire consequences for animals currently adapted to life in the Arctic, including the polar bear.

Everyone can help polar bear mothers and cubs by taking the following steps to cut emissions of heat-trapping CO2.

  • Let your government representatives know that you want policies to reduce CO2 emissions, encourage energy efficiency and increase the use of clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar energy.
  • Where possible, choose an electric utility company that uses clean renewable energy resources instead of dirty fossil fuels.
  • Make your next car one that gets at least 32 miles per gallon.
  • Make small home improvements -- use energy-efficient fluorescent lights, weatherproof your house, plant native shade trees, or replace worn-out appliances with ENERGYSTAR® models.
  • Whenever possible, walk, bike, carpool or use mass transit.

To learn more about how you can help fight global warming and help polar bears, check out our climate change pages.

Notes to editors:
High resolution photographs or b-roll of polar bears are available to accompany press stories based on this release and mentioning WWF. If used, appropriate credit must also be given to the photographer for photographs and on-screen credit to WWF for b-roll.

WWF is funding field research that studies the impact of climate change on polar bears.