This article is from the country in NA with the most polar bears. I read this kind of article, on Canada, all the time.
WINNIPEG — There’s nothing Canada can do on its own to fight climate change that will improve the plight of the polar bear, Environment Minister Jim Prentice told reporters Friday.
“Climate change is important, but climate change is a planetary issue, and there are no single measures that Canada acting alone can undertake, relative to climate change, that are going to change the circumstances on the ice for polar bears in the immediate future,” Prentice said at a gathering in Winnipeg of scientists and Inuit groups looking for ways to protect the dwindling population of Canadian polar bears.
Instead, Canadian measures to improve the animal’s status will focus on conservation, Prentice said.
“Climate change at this point, to a certain extent, is irreversible, he said. “That means that, on the ground today, there are conservation decisions that need to be made relative to the polar bear, and we focused on those matters today.”
However, Prentice said there is “every opportunity to work together” with the new U.S. administration to fight global warming.
“I think if you examine the principles upon which president-elect (Barack) Obama bases United States climate-change policy, they are virtually identical to the Canadian policies,” Prentice said.
Referring to “a failure on the part of science” to recognize traditional Inuit knowledge of polar bears, Prentice said both scientists and First Nations representatives speaking on Friday expressed a commitment to work closer together to come up with ways to save the iconic species.
To that end, Prentice raised the possibility of “convening a group of Inuits and scientists to examine ways we must specifically co-operate, and ways we must work together across jurisdictional boundaries to co-ordinate conservation measures.”
Because certain polar bear populations also cross into Greenland’s territory, Prentice said Canada would be speaking with that country to co-ordinate conservation efforts.
Researchers and northern residents have often been at odds over the polar bear, a species scientists say is threatened by past over-hunting, industrial activity and sea ice loss prompted by climate change.
Inuit groups maintain bear populations are healthy, and say science has long overlooked their traditional knowledge of the animals.
“The current population is stable,” said Gabriel Nirlungayuk, wildlife director at the Inuit land-claims agency Nunavut Tunngavik. “It is not constructive to exaggerate the situation.”
Canada’s estimated 15,500 polar bears are divided into 13 sub-populations, five of them believed to be in decline.
A series of U.S. government studies found the world’s polar bear population could drop by two thirds by 2050, with more modest declines predicted by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
Three panel presentations took place Friday morning, but media were ushered out of the conference room before the start of a round-table discussion on the status of the polar bear.
Earlier on Friday, Jeff Hutchings, chairman of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, spoke on the role of the advisory body in deciding the status of the polar bear.
Gabriel Nirlungayuk of the Inuit land claims group Nunavut Tunngavik pleaded for a greater respect for traditional knowledge.
“We have a personal relationship with the polar bears, and we want to continue to manage these bears for our future generations,” he said.
World Wildlife Fund-Canada director of species conservation Peter Ewins said he hoped a comprehensive polar bear protection plan would come out of the meeting.
He also called for immediate attention to threats like climate change, full protection of polar bear habitat and a boost in resources for polar bear research.