Bad news bears

Things are getting worse for all bear species except the American black bear, according to the World Conservation Union. The group recently added the sun bear to its “Red List” of threatened wildlife.

Weighing up to 150 pounds, the sun bear is the world’s smallest type of bear. It’s threatened by poachers who sell its gall bladder bile in China as traditional medicine.

“We estimate that sun bears have declined by at least 30 percent over the past 30 years,” says Ron Steinmetz of the WCU.

The Asiatic black bear, sloth bear, Andean bear and polar bear are all rated as vulnerable. The group reaffirmed China’s panda bears as endangered. There are only about 1,000 to 2,000 of them in the wild, fewer than any other bear species.

The WCU’s list reports that six of eight bear species are under threat, with the brown bear and American black bear the only bears with strong populations. Black bears are 900,000 strong—more than twice the number of all other species of bear combined.