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Polar Bear Population 'Falling Fast'

by:    16 December 2006

Polar bears living in the arctic region are suffering dramatic population declines, conservation group WWF has claimed.

WWF draws attention to new evidence from the World Conservation Union's latest report on polar bear numbers in the arctic, which shows that five out of the world's 19 polar bear populations are currently in decline - compared to just one population five years ago.

The sudden leap in the number of populations experiencing decreasing numbers is attributable to the negative impact of humans on the environment through carbon emissions, Stefan Norris, head of conservation at the WWF's international Arctic programme, explained.

"Climate change is melting the ice-bear's toe-hold on life," Mr Norris said.

"This bad news for polar bears is also bad news for other arctic species, and for the indigenous peoples whose traditional ways of life depend on them."

Fears that the shrinking arctic ice cap is slowly causing the near-extinction of polar bears are growing.

Experts believe the polar bear population will fall by as much as 30 per cent in just three generations, as the region is experiencing global warming at more than twice the rate of the rest of the world.