Arctic development 'a new menace to polar bears'
MOSCOW (AFP) - Oil exploration and increased sea traffic in the Arctic are encroaching on polar bear habitat, adding to the existing climate change risk, representatives of Arctic nations said at a Moscow conference on Wednesday.
"Today we face new challenges with the ship traffic increase and the oil and gas development," Canada's Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said at the international forum on polar bear conservation organised by the World Wildlife Fund.
The United States, Canada, Russia, Greenland and Norway host a global population of 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears.
But increased economic activity in the environmentally sensitive region and global greenhouse gas emissions are speeding up the melting of ice, threatening the species, the forum heard.