"ANCHORAGE -- Polar bear populations in and around Alaska are declining due to continued melting of sea ice and Russian poaching, according to reports released Thursday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Fewer polar bears have survived in the southern Beaufort Sea, which extends from northern Alaska to parts of Canada, and in the Chukchi and Bering Seas between northwestern Alaska and Russia, the agency's draft population assessments show.
Officials say the drop among the Chukchi and Bering bears is likely steeper than for those in the Beaufort, due to a more dramatic melt of sea ice -- which the bears need to travel and forage for food -- and an illegal Russian hunt believed to be killing 150 to 250 bears a year."
Yereth Rosen reports for Reuters June 18, 2009.