Threatened or endangered. The two words might not seem very different or important to you. But, to the polar bears, the differences will mean either their survival or extinction.
Last month, a federal judge ordered the Department of the Interior to reconsider its 2008 decision not to provide polar bears the most complete protection possible under the Endangered Species Act. Polar bears need the strongest protection possible if they’re going to avoid extinction. Listing them as “endangered” instead of “threatened” carries much more protection.
Polar bears are in real trouble. Even using model projections that have underestimated the rapid rate of sea-ice loss in the Arctic, scientists predict that two-thirds of the world's polar bears will be lost by 2050 and many much sooner. Already bears are drowning, starving and resorting to cannibalism; their populations are declining as the sea ice diminishes each year.
Please, take one minute to ask Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to provide full Endangered Species Act protection for the polar bear before it's too late.
- Secretary of the Interior
Global warming is affecting the Arctic far faster and more intensely than the rest of the world, and is rapidly melting the sea ice that polar bears depend on for survival. Scientists project an overwhelming risk of extinction for two-thirds of the world's polar bears, including all the bears in Alaska, by 2050, with a substantial risk that they could disappear even within the next 10 to 20 years. Already bears are starving, drowning and resorting to cannibalism, and populations are declining. In addition, some populations are severely overhunted, while some face the risk of yet another catastrophic oil spill.
Despite this harsh reality, in 2008 the Bush administration classified the polar bear as threatened -- rather giving it the more protective "endangered" status -- under the Endangered Species Act.
A federal court has now ordered you to reconsider the definition of an endangered species as it applies to the polar bear. Please do right by the polar bear instead of continuing to defend the flawed policies of the Bush administration. We need you to live up to President Obama's promises to bring scientific integrity to agency decision-making. Please list the polar as endangered and grant this iconic, imperiled species the full protection that science and the law require.
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