Year of the Polar Bear kicks off with Ottawa scavenger hunt

Posted on 02 February 2013  | 
The Russian icebear at Ottawa's Winterlude festival, part of the WWF Icebear Tracker game.
© S. Novotny / WWFEnlarge
WWF is kicking off its “Year of the Polar Bear” at Winterlude, Ottawa's winter carnival, with an innovative scavenger hunt. Inspired by WWF-supported projects to track polar bears by satellite, five small ice sculptures of polar bears are hidden around the city, each representing one of the five countries where polar bears are normally found - Canada, Norway, Russia, the Kingdom of Denmark and the United States.

Visitors using smartphones can “tag” the small ice sculptures on the Icebear Tracker site at With each successful tag, participants learn more about these Arctic icons. People who find all five are eligible to win fun prizes, such as lunch with a polar bear biologist.

“GPS technology allows researchers to study where polar bears go and how they behave - which in turn helps improve sustainable management of the species.” says Geoff York, WWF’s polar bear specialist. “The Icebear Tracker uses the same technology - we hope it will be a fun way to learn about and celebrate polar bear conservation.”

The Year of the Polar Bear is WWF’s recognition of forty years of international efforts to secure a future for the bears, and a look ahead to the challenges of the next forty years. 2013 is the 40th anniversary of the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, a circumpolar effort that brought polar bear populations back from a worrisome decline. Today, however, a rapidly warming Arctic means the sea ice upon which the bears depend is shrinking. WWF is working with partners across the Arctic to combat threats to the region and to preserve its rich biodiversity to the benefit of local peoples and the global community.

Learn more

WWF thanks the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ottawa and Environment Canada for their contributions to this project.
The Russian icebear at Ottawa's Winterlude festival, part of the WWF Icebear Tracker game.
© S. Novotny / WWF Enlarge

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