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WWF and polar bear hunting

Polar Bears are a majestic and iconic species, and so hunting of polar bears is a very emotive issue. WWF appreciates and understands the public concern that surrounds polar bears.

WWF also recognizes the legal, cultural and spiritual rights of Indigenous peoples to continue to sustainably hunt local animals in some Arctic nations, and to live off the land as they have done for many thousands of years. Our offices in those countries work with scientists, governments, local leaders and Indigenous communities to support sound management, and to monitor the setting of sustainable hunting levels by local authorities.

Polar bears are vulnerable. This is not because they are hunted, but because of the threat of climate change caused by our activities across the world. The primary threat to polar bears is that the sea ice where they hunt is projected to shrink rapidly over the next few decades. Thousands of years of evolution have prepared polar bears for life on the sea ice. Because of climate change, the ice cover has been changing rapidly, in both extent and thickness, and is shrinking too quickly for the bears to adapt within some areas of their current range.

The most important action to help polar bears is to slow the rate of climate change, and ultimately to stop it, so that the habitat of ice dependent species does not entirely disappear, pushing them into extinction.

WWF is working with governments, businesses and other organizations to help move global energy production from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

WWF also works to protect critical polar bear habitats, including important movement corridors and denning areas, and to minimize additional stressors from industrial activity such as oil and gas development and Arctic shipping. WWF supports community involvement in conservation and management. And we support work to reduce conflict between polar bears and people, to reduce the numbers of people and bears injured or killed.

It is only by taking such an approach that we can help to secure a future for the Arctic in which people and wildlife can thrive.

Learn more about our work to help polar bears.