End the Trend of Killing Polar Bears for Tourism’s Sake

Target: Ellen Hambro, Director General of the Norwegian Environment Agency

Goal: Protest the killing of a polar bear defending its home.

A man suffered serious injury and was near-death, while a critically endangered animal lost its life. This is the latest legacy from unneeded, dangerous tourism practices in the Arctic. Now, the one snapshot tourists of a German cruise ship will likely remember will not be an image of beautiful mountains, snow, and tundra. Rather, the lasting picture from this excursion will be the bloodied carcass of a polar bear shot by the sea.

The tragedy unfolded when a German-based Hapag-Lloyd Cruises ship took tourists to a group of islands near the North Pole–islands  often dubbed an ‘Arctic fairy tale’ for their wondrous scenery. Fairy tale would soon turn to genuine nightmare, however, when polar bear guards (individuals meant to block a harmful encounter with the native bears) disembarked ahead of the tour group. After a bear spotted one of the guards encroaching on its habitat, it allegedly charged at the man and wounded him. The other guards had allegedly tried other methods to scare away the polar bear before tragically resorting to deadly force.

While this incident may have been unavoidable in the moment, the true outrage lies in such a potentially deadly and dangerous situation being allowed in the first place. Scientists have long warned that climate change, melting ice, and subsequent changes in food supplies are essentially forcing polar bears into territories where human encounters and aggression levels are higher. Officials in these regions post plentiful warnings about the dangers of polar bear encounters, but they still enable, and even seemingly encourage, reckless tourist intrusions.

Sign this petition to demand those responsible for preserving these picturesque lands put protection ahead of profit and curb activities that will facilitate more slaughter.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director General Hambro,

A polar bear mauls a camping man in the back, dragging him away from friends. Another bear attacks an ‘adventurer’ group. The German cruise line employees who allegedly shot an attacking bear likely had similar flashes of doom streaking through their minds when they took deadly action.

Who put them in this position, caught between killing a critically endangered animal or saving the life of one of their own? When you sanction so much tourist activity in these wildlands, do you think about he individuals killed and maimed, or the many more polar bears that have faced a sudden death in the past few decades? Do you consider how each of these ‘necessary’ deaths diminishes just a little more a population that even now exists only in the low thousands?

If these questions have plagued you, or do plague you now in the wake of the most recent tragedy, please take action. Reevaluate the tourism policies that are further endangering a cherished native creature already driven from its habitat by climate change and human inaction.

Save the polar bears. Save lives.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Flickr Favorites

Success: Krill Fishing Companies to Back Antarctic Ocean Conservation

Target: Øyvind Eriksen, CEO of Aker ASA

Goal: Thank krill fishing company for supporting Antarctic conservation efforts.

Several krill fishing giants have agreed to halt their activities and support the creation of the world’s largest marine sanctuary. Among them is Aker ASA, a Norwegian company responsible for a large portion of the ocean’s krill shortage; several attempts have been made to convince them to stop their overfishing, including this one on ForceChange. The United Kingdom has also agreed to back this sanctuary, as well as Australia.

This decision is what ocean conservationists have been awaiting for months, after observing the decline in aquatic wildlife and seabirds who subsist on krill. Additionally, krill themselves are instrumental in reducing the carbon dioxide levels by feeding off of and excreting carbon-rich food on the surface of the waters. Not only will this much-needed sanctuary provide food and safety for the ocean’s wildlife, but it will play a small part in reducing the amount of toxic gases in the air.

The struggle of aquatic wildlife and seabirds will finally begin to end, thanks to the gradual increase in their food supply as well as the cleaner air provided by the krill’s feeding habits. Sign this petition to thank Aker ASA for their aid in creating this sanctuary.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Eriksen,

Thank you for joining several other krill fishing companies in supporting the creation of the Antarctica marine sanctuary. Thanks to your company’s agreement to halt krill fishing, even temporarily, aquatic mammals and seabirds will no longer suffer from a food shortage. Additionally, the krill’s own feeding habits will aid in the reduction of carbon dioxide in both the air and the water.

The ocean’s ecosystem is very delicate. Many species of aquatic mammals and seabirds are in danger due to various factors, with the loss of their food source being one of the worst struggles they have faced. Thanks to you and other krill fishing companies’ agreement to halt your actions, these creatures will have a chance to survive and repopulate. Your decision is a commendable one, and we are very grateful to you.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: NOAA