05-28-20 Polar bears caught in the middle
This is native America calling. I'm Tara Gatewood. The number of polar bears remaining in the wild is something many wonder about but by looking at the current trends with their habitat. Scientists worry the polar bear population is in steep decline. They are listed as threatened in the United States Under the endangered species act in organizations like the World Wildlife Fund fear. The number bears could decline by thirty percent for more or more Over the next forty years mass because researchers say climate change is melting Arctic ice. They spend most of their lives on. Polar bears are important to the indigenous. People who reside in these different regions and indigenous people are also part of the conservation efforts to offset the dire predictions for these animals survival. And that's what we're going to hear about today and we'd like you to hear we'd like to hear from you to You can join our conversation by calling one eight hundred nine six two eight four eight also one eight hundred nine. Nine native are polar bears important to you and your native community. Do you know about them. And their habitat be do call in Shearson thoughts Shearson Stories. One eight hundred nine nine six two eight. Four eight is a number. We're GONNA start off in nome Alaska. We have cutty agree with us. She's the executive director of the Alaska. Manute Co Management Council and is a member of the pilot station traditional council. Our pleasure to have her here cut. Welcome thank you because my name and so Let's just talk a little bit about The management that's going on with polar bears go ahead. Tell me more sure. So the organization that I work with the Alaska no NETCO Management Council or ANC. We are a newly formed tribal organization that represents fifteen tribes in. Alaska that rely on and have traditionally harvested polar bears for subsistence and have a have a great interest in ensuring that the continued health of polar bears into the future As mentioned Polar bears are very significant to our people and they represent a very important subsistence food source as well as very significant Source of materials and Just a really important part of our culture in terms of management we as the Alaskan native organization work Very closely with the US fish and Wildlife Service which is a Federal Agency with Management Authority? Over all the various in the United States and As as you can tell from the the name of our organization what we strive for is co-management management of polar bears and we're currently in the process of working to establish a formal co-management relationship with the US. Fish and Wildlife Service and our goal is in that co-management Relationship is to identify the roles and responsibilities of the federal agency as well as the ANC representing the native communities in Polar co-management and our main focus is to ensure that Police continue to be available for a sustainable subsistence harvest for our communities moving forward and we and as part of that role we we do. A lot of things Such as involvement in planning for important research that needs to take place and we are also looking to to set up a harvest monitoring And reporting program which would be Greatly beneficial to our communities to be able to monitor the The levels of harvest as well as together Conduct some environmental monitoring and gather samples and other things that can be informative for the management of polar bears in. Could you tell us a little bit about where it is? The inhabit in even if it's outside of Alaska sure well one thing I wanted to clarify is that There are considered to be many different subpopulations polar bears throughout the Arctic. So they spend you know everywhere from the Arctic in Alaska to Russia Agreement Canada In Alaska the United States. We've got two different populations of polar bears that That exists here and they're both shared with different countries. They migrate to different areas. So we've got the check cheesy polar bear population that's shared between Russia and the United States and then there's the southern Beaufort Sea population that that travels between Alaska and Canada so in Alaska. It's mainly Polar bears can be wherever their prey are Wherever there's sea ice so the southernmost extent of sea ice is considered to be a southern boundary on the bering sea area. And they go all the way In the adjacent coastal areas beyond the border of the Alaska Canada in the east. And so how important is ice to them? I said very significant to polar bears And a large part of a the species that they depend on our is dependency feels. So that's I am. That's where based spend their time as where where they're praise until so cutting when you think of all of areas that these animals need to survive What kind of conflicts? Come into play. Specially the places where they would rather be but they can't go there for certain reasons go hit sure. Well I I mentioned that. There are many different subpopulations of throughout the Arctic and that's significant because the different populations are responding to changes in very different ways so It's mentioned that polar bears are are listed as threatened under the endangered species act and that's due to potential future impact of climate change in sea ice loss on the polar bear populations and So actually at the currently the populations in the United States are actually very healthy. The chassis population in the southern. Beaufort population and Especially in the Checchi see. It's been observed that the bear seemed to be abundant. They seemed to be adapting to to change if it may be occurring in the environment here and in large part these spirits and the chuck. Jc are spending much more time in On wrangel island so there are changing the the places that they're spending more of their time and they they seem to be acting and that's great news for us because it means that It means that we can expect to continue to see them around So it's it's very variable into so when you say talking about conditions in the future what are some of the thoughts and especially things going on in terms of co-management. Are there things being put in place understanding that climate shifting and places that used to be colder are not Tell me a little bit about preparations to make sure that you know these. Polar bears have a future. Yes so of course. Our communities are are very interested in making sure that polar bears are healthy. That what we're doing what we need to do to be good stewards of our resources and.