After years of negotiating, the U.S. and Russia are signing an agreement today to protect polar bears in northeastern Siberia and Alaska. There are an estimated 3,000 polar bears in the region — and that number has been growing — but enviros have been fearful that the total could decline because ice cover has been shrinking due to global warming and poaching and commercial hunting have picked up to feed the market for bear hides and gallbladders. The pact, modeled after a similar one between the U.S. and Canada, will prohibit commercial hunting and all types of hunting around polar bears dens, as well as the killing of female bears with cubs and bears younger than one year, and the use of aircraft, traps, and snares to hunt bears. Native tribes in both Alaska and Russia are planning to participate in the conservation plan. Some enviros are hopeful the agreement could set a precedent. David Cline of the World Wildlife Fund asked, “If we can have agreement on polar bears, why not on walrus and other wildlife?”