A special meeting of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Polar Bear Specialist Group took place 24–28 October 2012 in Oslo, Norway with the purpose of discussing how the group can best address and respond to the many issues currently affecting polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and their conservation.
At the meeting, the group reinforced its role and commitment to providing the most rigorous and thorough science on polar bears, including policy and management decisions. As a result, they revised the guidelines of the group; updated the mission, objectives and membership terms; and added a variety of sub-committees to the structure. This information will soon be made available on the IUCN SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group website.
The group also discussed the next steps for updating status tables on its website which show the different size and trends of Polar Bear sub-populations. The listing of the Polar Bear as Vulnerable on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, which was last assessed in 2008 and is scheduled for re-assessment in the next few years was also discussed.
Additionally, the US proposal to transfer the Polar Bear from Appendix II to Appendix I for the 16th Conference of the Parties meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) was addressed - members of the group will be providing the most current science for the IUCN / TRAFFIC Analyses of the Proposals to CITES CoP16 project.
Ways to communicate Polar Bear information was also discussed by the Specialist Group, including the new “State of the Polar Bear” interactive map that allows visitors to explore the current population, habitats and threats to polar bears. The highly-skilled and motivated experts in the IUCN SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group are positive about continuing to support polar bear conservation on behalf of IUCN after being able to renew its focus and relevant approaches at this meeting.