Canadian province upgrades polar bear to endangered species list
ANCHORAGE – WWF applauds the Province of Manitoba's decision to join a growing list of governmental bodies recognizing polar bears as threatened under its regional Endangered Species Act.
Manitoba's move to upgrade its polar bear listing from “of concern” to “threatened” this week is yet another example of growing consensus that polar bears and their habitat are at heightened risk of extinction.
Under the new designation, polar bears in Manitoba will have special protection including restrictions on how close people can approach the bears; limited development near critical habitat along the Hudson Bay coastline; and increased research and study of the bears and climate change.
Manitoba is home to a population of polar bears in Churchill in western Hudson Bay region, a popular destination for “ecotourists” who flock to the north to observe polar bears each fall while the bears are stuck on land.
“There are many parallels between Canada’s Western Hudson Bay and Alaska’s Southern Beaufort Sea polar bear populations,” said Margaret Williams, director of WWF’s Bering Sea Program in Anchorage. “Both are relatively well-studied populations and are showing clear signs of stress from diminishing sea ice and threats to habitat.”
Ontario and Newfoundland have already listed polar bears as endangered. The Province of Northwest Territories (which covers Canada’s Beaufort Sea) is expected to consider endangered species legislation in 2010.
For more information, contact:
Director, WWF Bering Sea Program
Tel: (907) 830-4349
Tel: (907) 868-4884
Mobile: (907) 229-2470