Saving Polar Bears
Unregulated commercial and sport hunting was the major threat to polar bears in the 1960s and 1970s. Pressure from commercial hunters using light aircraft and other modern methods was so great that the five polar bear nations reached a landmark accord to regulate these practices and conserve polar bears despite the tensions of the Cold War.
The 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears was signed in Oslo on November 15 of that year by Canada, Denmark (for Greenland), Norway, the U.S., and Russia. It was the first time the five polar bears nations had come together on a shared wildlife conservation issue. It remains one of the strongest multilateral environmental agreements ever signed.
Today, the primary conservation concern for polar bears is habitat loss and reduced access to their primary prey due to climate change, not harvest. Other challenges include increased commercial activities, pollution, disease, inadequate habitat protection, and the potential for overharvest in smaller or declining sub-populations.
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