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Polar bear champion Amstrup wins prestigious animal conservation award

Alaska Dispatch

Steven Amstrup has been awarded the 2012 Indianapolis Prize, a leading award for animal conservation, according to a press release sent out by Polar Bears International. Amstrup was selected from a group of six finalists. He was recognized for his life-long work to better understand polar bears and save them from extinction.

"Steve Amstrup is widely regarded as the most important and influential scientist working on polar bear conservation today," Michael Crowther, CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo, told Polar Bears International. "By bringing greater awareness to the polar bears' plight and plausible solutions, he has created a lifeline for the entire species."

According to the press release, Amstrup worked as a lead researcher for the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska early in his career, and solved the mystery of where polar bears give birth to their young. In 2007, Amstrup led an expedition to assess future impacts of global warming on polar bears; the nine reports produced by researchers became the basis for the 2008 listing of polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Polar bears are the first, and so far only, species to be placed on the list due to the threat posed by global climate change.

Amstrup will receive $100,000 and the Lilly Medal, which will be presented Sept. 29, in Indianapolis.

Amstrup will be in Anchorage Thursday June 21 to speak at the Feast for the Beasts, a fund-raiser for the Alaka Zoo.