Threats to Polar Bears
The most serious threat to polar bears today is climate change. As temperatures in the Arctic continue to get warmer, the sea ice that polar bears rely on for survival melts earlier each spring and forms later each fall. In 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the polar bear in Alaska as threatened, the first listing under the Endangered Species Act chalked up primarily to climate change.
Oil and gas development also poses a major risk to polar bears, particularly the threat of oil spills. There is still no proven method of cleaning up oil in broken sea-ice conditions, and an oil spill would not only directly harm polar bears, but would also deplete their prey and contaminate their habitat.