Canada’s Environment Minister, the Honourable Peter Kent, has declared the polar bear as a species of special concern under the Species at Risk Act.
“Canada is home to two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population and we have a unique conservation responsibility to effectively care for them,” said Minister Kent. “Our Government is demonstrating leadership in protecting this iconic species. Listing the polar bear under the Species at Risk Act represents an important contribution to protecting our environment and the animals that live in it.”
As a result of the listing, a management plan must be prepared within three years. It should be noted that the plan will not result in prohibitions. The ultimate aim of the plan will be to alleviate human threats in order to remove the polar bear from the Species at Risk list.
This management plan will build on the National Polar Bear Conservation Strategy. In a recent meeting held in Iqaluit in October, Canada-in cooperation with the United States, Russia, Norway, and Greenland-presented our National Polar Bear Conservation Strategy. This Strategy will act as the cornerstone of the management plan. It aims to illustrate, strengthen and formalize Canada’s existing polar bear conservation measures.
“At Environment Canada, our business is protecting the environment,” said Minister Kent. “We collaborate with our partners at home and abroad to realize concrete progress on initiatives that will protect the health of our people, our species and our planet. By listing the polar bear as a species of concern, we are doing just that.”
Environment Canada held extensive consultations with provincial and territorial governments, regional wildlife management boards, Aboriginal peoples and other stakeholders. The vast majority supported the listing. It can be found in the Canada Gazette Part II.