An international team of scientists is urging governments to create a plan to address the negative impact of climate change on animals inhabiting the Arctic. Global warming has already taken its toll on the polar bear population, and according to recent studies hundreds of Hudson Bay polar bears in northeastern Canada could be left stranded on land if another significant ice melt strikes next year.
The researchers claim the governments should be proactive in the face of the possibility that an unexpected jump in Arctic warming trends could erase half of the Hudson Bay polar bear population in a single year. Furthermore, this scenario could be repeated with other Arctic animal species.
“It’s a fact that early sea ice break-up and late ice freeze-up and the overall reduction in ice pack are taking their toll,” said professor Andrew Derocher, co-author of a policy perspective in the journal Conservation Letters. “We want governments to be ready with conservation and management plans for polar bears when a worst case climate change scenario happens.”
One of the solutions proposed by the researchers is the so-called “wild park model”, which would include feeding the animals and releasing them into the wild as soon as the freeze ups allow for it. However, this could prove to be far too expensive and could have negative effects on the animals’ long term behavior.
“Around the world polar bears are an iconic symbol so any tragedy would produce massive attention,” said Derocher. “If the warming trend around Hudson’s Bay took an upward spike, the population of 900 to 1000 bears in western Hudson Bay would be on the line, so there has to be a plan.”
Images from Wikimedia Commons
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