In 1973, the United States, Canada, Demark/Greenland, Norway and Russia agreed to a treaty which put limits on the hunting of polar bears. These particular countries were involved with the treaty since they all have Arctic territory which is polar bear habitat.
Much like their meeting in 1973, this group of countries recently met in Tromso, Norway to discuss the current state of polar bears. The purpose of the meetings held between March 17th and 19th was to also determine further conservation efforts and further review of their polar bear agreement.
The group identified the greatest threat to polar bears as climate change. The group wishes to decrease polar bear threats due to shipping, oil and gas drilling and tourism. However, they pointed out that their agreement means little without global support.
Polar bears have existed in the Arctic for most likely many hundred thousand years, where they are at the top of the food chain, aside from humans. The original agreement between the aforementioned countries came after polar bears were being hunted in great numbers. The Soviet Union was actually the first country to limit hunting, back in 1956.
The current population of polar bears have been estimated at about 22,000. Yearly, approximately 700 polar bears are killed in Canada, Greenland and Alaska. However, other countries have been increasing protection, such as the United States listing the bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Some experts are proposing that a refuge of sorts be created for polar bears in the face of retreating ice. An area between Greenland’s north shores and Canada’s Arctic archipelago is seen as the prime habitat for polar bears when ice retreats. Experts agree that this area of ice is the most likely to retain its structure in the future, which would help polar bears survive.