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The U.S. And Russia Agree on One Thing: They Want to Save Polar Bears

In a rare moment of partnership, the U.S. and Russia are trying to join together to save the polar bear

smithsonian.com

Image: David

The United States and Russia really don’t agree on a lot of things. But in a rare moment of partnership, the U.S. and Russia are trying to do something about polar bears’ plight. The New York Times writes:

Russia and the United States, two of the five countries where polar bears live, are now the main allies pushing for greater protection for the bears under a global treaty on endangered species, which is being reviewed this week at a conference in Bangkok.

“It really seems that both countries were willing to put aside their differences in order to work together to help save the polar bear,” said Jeffrey Flocken, North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

And the polar bear needs some serious helping. There are about 25,000 of them left in the wild, and their habitat is slowly melting away. The proposal that the two countries are working on involves protecting the polar bears from hunting and banning the trade of skin, fur and whatever else can be made from the bears.

While the U.S. and Russia have come together on this, other countries aren’t so fond of the plan. Canada and Denmark oppose the ban, and Norway hasn’t announced a decision yet. Canada is the only country that allows the trade of bear bits to overseas consumers. Other places have kept the trade internal, and regulated use of the bears by native communities.

It’s unclear whether this rare burst of camaraderie between Russia and the United States will amount to help for the bear as it slips towards extinction. And it probably won’t do anything for the two countries who are at odds with what to do about Syria, missiles and adoption.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Russia Just Voted To Stop Letting Americans Adopt Russian Kids
It’s Not Too Late to Save the Polar Bear

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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