The US Department of the Interior is expected this week to change the polar bear's conservation status from "vulnerable" to "endangered"—which would make the animals the first species officially recognized as victims of global warming. The year-old proposal concerning the appealing predators would give conservationists a better chance at combating greenhouse gas emissions, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Polar bears are the perfect mascot for environmentalists' campaign, as their cuddly stuffed incarnations and celebrity cubs like Knut and Flocke tug at public heartstrings. If the current situation doesn't change, experts predict that two thirds of polar bears will die in the next few decades as the sea ice upon which the species depends continues its rapid melt. (Read more polar bear stories.)