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Photo of the Week (3/23/10)


Protection Out of Reach?
Polar bear
Mark Cosgriff/Marine Photobank
Polar bears depend on the formation of seasonal sea ice in the Arctic for places to rest and bridges to hunting grounds. Global climate change, however, has shrunk the extent of this sea ice. Arctic sea ice follows an annual cycle of melting and refreezing, melting through the warm summer months and refreezing in the winter. While Arctic sea ice extent varies from year to year because of changeable atmospheric conditions, ice extent has shown a dramatic overall decline during the past 30 years. Without large patches of traversable ice, these iconic animals are now often forced to swim great distances to get from one ice floe to another, risking exhaustion and starvation along the way.

Polar bears were considered for trade protection under Appendix I at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) 15th Conference of Parties in Doha, Qatar, March 13 to 25, 2010, but the proposal failed to receive enough votes of support from attending nations.

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