February 27th is International Polar Bear Day, so here are some facts that will help you celebrate and save this magnificent, wild creature.
Did You Know?
Polar bears are the first species to become endangered because of climate change. The summer ice loss in the Arctic is now equal to an area the size of Alaska, Texas, and the state of Washington combined.
Polar bears are so well protected from the cold that they have more problems with overheating than they do from the cold. Even in very cold weather, they quickly overheat when they try to run.
Polar bears top the food chain in the Arctic. They help keep the balance of nature by preventing an overpopulation of seals.
Polar bears have developed many adaptive traits that help them survive in their icy environments, like small bumps called papillae that keep their feet from slipping on ice; strong, powerful claws that enable them to catch seals; and a nose powerful enough to detect prey that is miles away.
The Chukchi Sea population of polar bears, which is shared by Russia and the United States, is likely declining due to illegal harvest in Russia and one of the highest rates of sea ice loss in the Arctic.
How to Help
Reducing carbon emissions is a good insurance policy for the health of our planet. Polar bear scientist Andrew Derocher says that even small changes can make a difference if each of us helps.
Make an effort to conserve energy whenever possible by purchasing more efficient appliances, unplugging electronics when they’re not in use, walking or riding your bike instead of driving, and planting trees.
Speak up for America’s polar bears by letting Congress know that you want to see comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation passed now.
Adopt your very own polar bear (symbolically, of course!) and help change the forecast for wildlife all over the world.
Remind your friends to celebrate the polar bear, and all endangered species by sending them a free polar bear e-card!
Donate to an organization that is working to save the polar bear, like the National Wildlife Federation or Polar Bears International. Recently, the government has been proposing a lot of changes to the way that endangered species, like the polar bear, are protected and managed in the United States. In fact, the Obama administration has proposed to cut funding for listing of endangered species by 5 percent, so it’s more important than ever to financially support these organizations.
Image Credit: psc.apl.washington.edu