You have to know that the 2015 IUCN Red List assessment for polar bears contains good news because no one is talking about it – and none of the online information sources I’ve checked have updated their polar bear profiles to reflect it.
For all its flaws (including the deceptive focus on summer sea ice), this Red List update is the most statistically robust, in-depth study of the conservation status of polar bears – why is it being ignored, especially by the conservation organizations people turn to for information online?
UPDATE: see 18 January 2016 post here.
To recap: The 2015 IUCN Red List assessment update for polar bears (published 18 November 2015) states that the global polar bear population is 22,000 – 31,000 (26,000), that the current trend is ‘unknown’ and that there is only a 70% chance that polar bear numbers will decline by 30% in 35 years (with virtually zero chance that the numbers will decline by 80% or more by 2015) – in other words, zero chance of extinction. [Detailed in a document called 22823 Ursus maritimus]. Pdf here.
Online information sources
In short, not a single one of the organizations listed below have updated their polar bear information profile pages to reflect the new status document. Let me know if you find one I’ve missed.
IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) – Not updated. This is the most egregious omission: there is simply no excuse for the PBSG not to even mention the IUCN Red List decision a full month after it was announced. It is not even listed under “News”.
Not surprising then, the results of the new study are not reflected in the pages for population status, population status table, or global estimates (backups here and here), even though PBSG members co-authored the report!
Wiig, Ø., Amstrup, S., Atwood, T., Laidre, K., Lunn, N., Obbard, M., Regehr, E. & Thiemann, G. 2015. Ursus maritimus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T22823A14871490. Published online here; PDF copy of that report page: 2015 IUCN Red List Ursus maritimus (Polar Bear) – www_iucnredlist_org_Nov 18 2015
I wonder how long it will be before the PBSG will acknowledge the existence of the report they were responsible for producing? I wonder if their parent body, the IUCN, knows they haven’t yet done this?
EOL [Encyclopedia of Life] – Not updated. This is the authority Google uses: it’s what appears when you Google “polar bear” (see screencap below, captured 21 December 2015). I wrote to them 12 December alerting them to the out of date information (particularly the “Conservation status: population declining” bit). I got a reply from them on 14 December stating that they are “in the process of updating our data feed from IUCN.” It’s a week later: neither the Google summary nor the EOL site information haven’t changed. I wonder how long it will take?
Polar Bears International (PBI) – Not updated. The new Red List assessment is mentioned as a news item (back up here) but it does not mention the new official population estimate. The PBI dedicated conservation page does not contain a reference to the new assessment (back up here): if a reader did not see the ‘News’ item, they would have no knowledge that a 2015 updated assessment had been published or that it contained significant new information.