Bush Administration proposes listing the polar bear as a threatened species

Most listings nowadays, and in the past, have come from conservation groups forcing the species onto the “list,” but in an unusual move the Bush Administration has proposed listing the polar bear, which is suffering the effects of warming in the Arctic. That melts the ice the bears need to hunt from. The polar bear also suffers a huge load of toxic chemicals because the polar vortex concentrates and traps pollutants from the industrialized countries to the south.

Story in the Washington Post. By Juliet Eilperin. “U.S. Wants Polar Bears Listed as Threatened.

Added on Dec. 28. Here is more (including links to the proposal) from the Carnivore Conservation blog.



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  1. Alan Gregory Avatar

    And here’s an update on one of those now “traditional” listing proposals. This time it’s the white marlin, a popular Florida sport fish.

  2. JEFF E. Avatar
    JEFF E.

    Is it just me or does anyone else remember when this pile of dog **** in the white house and all his equally sorry little minions said time and again that there was no such thing as global warming. It was all just a liberal plot against the administration.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    They have been taking a real beating in the media for polar bears drowning, starving, etc. Polar bears are an icon. Maybe Rove told them “we sure need some kind of gesture,” and this is it.

  4. mike Avatar

    They want to list the Polar Bear? Whoa, beware! I smell a booby trap of some kind. Can you say TTRROJAAAN HORRRSSSE?

  5. Mike Avatar

    Very good news. As Bush struggles to build any kind of decent legacy at all, he might be prodded into actually doing some good for the environment. I know it sounds ridiculous, but now is the time to start tossing up some wildernes bills. Rove knows Bush needs to leave with at least some sort of legacy besides the Iraq disaster.

    Bush’s complete failure as president might work to our benefit in some ways.

  6. Pronghorn Avatar

    Regarding comment #4, this is the same feeling I just can’t shake. I saw Kempthorne tonight on the News Hour confirming that yes, it’s about climate change and melting ice, but also asserting (and repeating it again later) that gas/oil exploration is NOT a threat.

  7. Jim Avatar

    Hi, my comments my be completely ignorant or uninformed or just plain stupid, but I have zero knowledge of polar bear ecology. Would it be feasible to introduce polar bears into the Antarctic? Are they suited to the climate? Is there food sources? If this is completly ridiculous forgive me, but it is just a thought that entered my mind.

  8. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    I saw Kempthorne last night also, the guy is a joke. He sounded like someone briefed him on global warming five minutes before he went on the air and he was having trouble remembering what he was told to say.

  9. mike Avatar

    Jim, not to ignore your comment. It’s well-intentioned; but, you know the old saying about the road to… well, you know. Introducing Polar Bears to the Antarctic would be a repeat of introducing cheatgrass to Nevada, lake trout to Yellowstone, rainbow trout to any and every cutthroat stream, house cats to the Galapagos, cockroaches to NY, and such to areas where they do not belong. They might look pretty harmless at first; but, the first thing that they would take out would be the already stresssed penguins, then the seals and fish species that would have no genetic memory of them and no evolved defenses to deal with them. It would be a nightmare.

  10. Wolfy Avatar

    This news makes me a bit optimistic, but wary of the intentions behind this apparent reversal of the present administration. The struggle to get a species listed is only the first part of the struggle to recovering the species. I have a feeling that the request for listing is just a political stunt to recover the administration’s ratings.

    Most of the polar bear population is outside of the US. Therefore, other countries that have bears are not necessarily subject to recovery strategies imposed by the US. And, as with any species, if there is not enough suitable habitat, there will not be enough bears to have a viable population. The vital component of most polar bear habitat in the winter is sea ice. The sea ice is disappearing and the bears may disappear as well. There is no action or legislation that we implement at this point to stop it. The administration is probably well aware of this.

    The US Fish and Wildlife may move with the proposal to list the polar bear. They will probably do a cursory 90-day investigation of the situation. And if warranted, they may do an in-depth study of habitat, ecology, and population status of the polar bear (a conservation assessment). At that point, they may decide whether to list the bear or not. They may find that the factors (climate change?) leading to the demise of the species are out of the control of the US government. This may lead the feds to find that, although the bear is disappearing, there is nothing that the US can or is willing to do about it. The feds will probably come-up with some generic conservation strategy to recover the bear. This strategy will probably be unenforceable and too impractical to implement.

    Whether they list the bear is irrelevant. When the smoke clears, the administration can then throw up their hands and say that they tried. The bear’s population will continue to decline. The sea ice will continue to disappear. They’ll blame the failure on the Democrats, Russia, environmentalists, or some other scapegoat.

    I’m sorry, but I think the polar bear, as a wild, viable species is doomed. Its demise will be another footnote to the growing tale of how our inept leadership, greed, and ignorance led to our own demise, as well. Eventually, our consumer society will consume the planet and ourselves.

  11. rocknation Avatar

    Rocknation suggests that the Bush Administration is also an endangered species!

  12. Brian Avatar

    Maybe they should do something to stop the reasons the polar bears are endangered, instead of just placing them on a list.

    Bushco is one of the main reasons that the environment is in the shape it’s in today, and we can only expect it to get worse.

  13. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    A related but disturbing addition is that a ancient, maybe 3000 year old, 41sq. mi. ice shelf in the Arctic has broken free from Elsmare island. While it happened a year or more ago I don’t remember seeing any news on it until now


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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