March 6, 2013

A polar bear with nowhere to go.     Photo: Martin Lopatka/Flickr

U.S. Fails to Ban Polar Bear Trade (Update)

Gang up on Canada

The U.S. and Russia are uniting against Canada in an effort to win a hockey gold med—er, no. They’re uniting to try to ban the international commercial trade of polar bear products. Canada, currently, is home to near 75 percent of the world’s remaining polar bears, and it’s also the only country that allows the export of polar bear products.

Around 600 polar bears are killed by Canadian hunters each year, and then exported for their, well, parts. The U.S., supported by Russia, has issued a proposal to ban the export trade. From The Guardian:

The U.S. is adamant the trade is unsustainable. "The best scientific evidence says two-thirds of the polar bear population will be gone by mid-century, so how can you have a sustainable commercial trade?" asked Dan Ashe, head of the U.S. delegation to the 178-nation meeting of the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) being held in Thailand. 

Canada, home to about three-quarters of the world's 20,000-25,000 remaining polar bears, is the only country that allows the export of polar bear products. Its delegates argue there is "insufficient scientific evidence" that polar bear populations will decline by more than half in the coming decades and that trade is "not detrimental to the species." They say hunting and trading in polar bears is "integrally linked" with Inuit subsistence and culture.

A vote is expected within the next few days between the U.S. proposal and a European Union proposal, which would only require Canada “to report the number of polar bears exported and provide further information on trade and populations.”

UPDATE: The U.S. proposal was defeated, with 38 voting in favor, 42 against, and 46 abstaining. The exporting of polar bear products will remain legal in Canada.

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Maine gets lots of snow in the winter.     Photo: Chewonki Semester School/Flickr

Missing MA Teen Survives 2 Days on Sugarloaf

Built an igloo for warmth

Nicholas Joy, 17, wandered away from Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine on Sunday and survived two nights in the bitter cold before being found yesterday morning by a snowmobiler.

Joy, who hails from Medford, Massachusetts, was skiing with his father on Sugarloaf when they took separate runs down the mountain and became separated. The boy accidentally skied off the trails on the western side of the mountain and got lost. His father reported him missing when he didn't show up that afternoon.

To survive, Joy built himself a snow shelter to crawl into for the nights. He drank water from a nearby stream during the day and followed the sounds of snowmobiles racing across the snowy terrain. The search for him was suspended Sunday and Monday nights due to deteriorating conditions.

He was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation on Tuesday, but was in good condition, according to local authorities. The boy had a tearful reunion with his parents that morning.

One or two skiers are reported missing at Sugarloaf each winter, but are usually found within the next day.

Via Fox News

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Super Mosquitoes to Invade Florida

20 times larger than normal

Florida continues its ascent to America's Throne of the Bizarre this week with news that its central region may soon be invaded by a race of super insects. The gallinipper, a species of mosquito with a body larger than a quarter, has benefited greatly from recent tropical storms and is poised for a massive population spike.

"I wouldn't be surprised, given the numbers we saw last year," said University of Florida entomologist Phil Kaufman. "When we hit the rainy cycle we may see that again." According to UF researchers, only female gallinippers will bite humans in search of blood. However, the species is known to be very aggressive and possess a very painful bite. On the upside, they are not known to carry diseases like West Nile virus or malaria.

Officials recommend wearing plenty of DEET and covering as much of your body as possible to defend against the terrifying beasts.

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    Photo: Meiguoren/Flickr

Skiers Sickened After Visiting Resort

Authorities suspect norovirus

Authorities are investigating a ski resort in Arizona after a group of visitors came down with what is believed to be norovirus. The skiers, who have not been identified, became ill after taking a trip to Sunrise Park Resort in Greer, Arizona, on the weekend of February 23. The virus, which is extremely contagious, is spread through fecal contamination in food or water, and causes unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms.

The resort, which is owned by the White Mountain Apache tribe, is currently cooperating with federal, state, county, and tribal authorities to determine the source of the infection.

Via AZFamily.com

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Main summit of Broad Peak as seen from the fore cone     Photo: Jerzy Natkański

2 Climbers Missing on Broad Peak

Have not returned to Camp IV

Two of the four Polish climbers who summited Broad Peak on Tuesday are missing, according to Polskie Radio. On Tuesday at roughly 6 p.m., Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Artur Małek, and Tomasz Kowalski reached the summit. By Wednesday evening, Berbeka and Kowalski had still not returned to Camp IV. The expedition organizer said Berbeka and Kowalski camped at 7,900 meters on the mountain and he is not sure what happened to them.

“We should be worried," Artur Hajzer, coordinator of the Polish Winter Mountaineering in the Himalayas 2010-2015 project, told TVP public television. "They found themselves in a life-threatening situation and are very tired.”

In an expedition post after the summit on Tuesday, Hajzer said he would not call the mission a success until all four climbers had reached base camp.

For more on the situation, follow expedition updates on Polski Himalayaizm Zimowy 2010-2015.

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