But on this, International Polar Bear Day, a Saskatoon researcher from the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Environment and Sustainability is speaking out on the future of the iconic beast.
Douglas Clark, working with Martina Tyrell at the University of Exeter, recently published a research paper on media coverage as various groups lobbied to stop the international trade of polar bear parts. But on this, International Polar Bear Day, a Saskatoon researcher from the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Environment and Sustainability is speaking out on the future of the iconic beast.
Based on his research, Clark concludes that the coverage overemphasized hunting as a threat to the future of the polar bear, taking the focus off what he sees as the real issue.
"Climate change which is a considerably larger and more serious threat to polar bears throughout their range completely disappears as a result of the media push."
Animal rights group makes no apologies
The Humane Society International is one of the groups responsible for that media push. The group agrees that loss of habitat due to climate change is a big issue for polar bears. At the same time, though, the group is making no apologies for its campaign.
“We are genuinely concerned about the impact of international commercial trade on polar bears, that is the reason we did that,” said Teresa Telecky, director of wildlife.
The bid to ban trade on polar bear parts failed.
But the bid leaves Clark concerned about the way various causes have adopted the polar bear.
"Polar bears are an incredibly uncontrollable symbol; people use them for all kinds of things. It's to the point now where we need to depoliticize polar bears as a symbol."
Clark believes it’s time to refocus on climate change as the most serious threat to polar bears.