TFK Top Stories
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) on Monday announced a polar bear recovery plan to protect the arctic species, whose numbers have declined. Polar bears have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act for eight years. The animals use sea ice for breeding and hunting, but sea ice is melting quickly due to climate change. The world's population of polar bears is currently estimated at 22,000 to 31,000. Two of the 19 subpopulations—in the southern Beaufort Sea off Alaska's north coast and in Canada's Western Hudson Bay—have shrunk because of sea ice loss.
The USFW plan focuses mostly on protecting the polar bears’ dens, reducing the number of encounters between the bears and humans, and protecting the animals from threats like oil-spill contamination. However, the agency is not in charge of setting rules about greenhouse gas emissions. Many scientists say there is a direct link between the emissions and the loss of sea ice. It would be up to the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. "In order to recover polar bears, we believe that we have to address the climate change problem over the long-term," Jenifer Kohout, co-chair of the recovery team, said.
The first national-championship rematch in the history of college football ended with a twist on Monday night. Clemson University’s Tigers dethroned last year’s champs, the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide, with a 35-31 victory. The final win occurred after the lead changed hands three times in the fourth quarter. Clemson junior quarterback Deshaun Watson got the ball last. Watson found walk-on receiver Hunter Renfrow for a two-yard touchdown pass with a second remaining, to give the Tigers their first national championship since 1981. “That has to be one of the greatest games of all time,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said following his team’s win. Alabama coach Nick Saban said that his team “could have done a lot of things a lot better.” But he added, “I have to say that I was proud of the way our guys competed in the game, and just sorry for all of them that we didn’t finish it better.” Clemson and Alabama faced off in last year’s title game, with the Crimson Tide defeating the Tigers 45-40.
SeaWorld San Diego’s killer whales performed for the last time on Sunday. The park has ended its long-running theatrical show featuring the whales. Thousands of people packed the stadium for the last chance to watch the orcas leap into the air and perform tricks as part of the park’s “One Ocean” show. Last March, SeaWorld announced it was canceling its signature show to make way for its new “natural orca encounters” experience, which shows the whales in a “more naturalistic setting” and does not feature them performing tricks. The theatrical killer whale show will next be coming to an end at SeaWorld San Antonio, in Texas, and then in Orlando, Florida. San Diego’s last show comes days after SeaWorld announced the death of Tilkum, a well-known killer whale who lived in the Orlando park. Tilkum was featured in the documentary film Blackfish after killing a trainer. The film sparked calls for changes in how SeaWorld treats its killer whales.