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Feds announce decision to list polar bear as threatened species

May 14, 2008 By Jill Sakai

After a series of delays, the U.S. Department of the Interior today (May 14) announced that, on the recommendation of the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the polar bear will be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The announcement marks the first major listing decision based largely on the effects of climate change.

A previous University of Wisconsin–Madison story on the topic is available. The federal announcement can be found here.

An International Polar Bear Science Team was charged with providing the FWS with scientific guidance on future climate change in the Arctic and its likely impacts on polar bear habitat and populations. UW–Madison climatologist Eric DeWeaver used climate models to predict how global changes in coming decades will likely affect the Arctic, particularly with regard to summertime sea ice, a critical component of polar bear habitat.

DeWeaver, an assistant professor of atmospheric and oceanic studies, specializes in Arctic climate variability, modeling and predicting future changes due to global warming. He is available to answer questions from media about this decision and the use of climate models; contact him at or (608) 265-5438.