One of the most magnificent creatures on the planet is losing its habitat.
From Agence France-Presse:
Polar bear numbers could drop a third by mid-century, according to the first systematic assessment, released on Wednesday, of how dwindling Arctic sea ice affects the world’s largest bear.
There is a 70 percent chance that the global polar bear population –- estimated at 26,000 -– will decline by more than 30 percent over the next 35 years, a period corresponding to three generations, the study found.
Other assessments have reached similar conclusions, notably a recent review by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which tracks endangered species on its Red List.
The IUCN classified the sea-faring polar bear—a.k.a. Ursus maritimus—as “vulnerable”, or at high risk of extinction in the wild.
But the new study [open access], published in the Royal Society’s Biology Letters, is the most comprehensive to date, combining 35 years of satellite data on Arctic sea ice with all known shifts in 19 distinct polar bears groupings scattered across four ecological zones in the Arctic.