Approximately 935 polar bears live in the western Hudson Bay area, an area extending from the Manitoba-Ontario boundary through to Chesterfield Inlet in the Northwest Territories. The majority of the population spends most of the year, from mid-November to mid-July, on the ice of Hudson Bay. Pregnant females are an exception to this, spending from mid-November through to March in maternity dens on land, and then moving to the sea ice with their cubs. From mid-July through to mid-November the entire population is forced onto adjacent coastal lands as the ice disappears. The greatest concentrations during this time period occur between the Nelson River and the town of Churchill.
High demand is seen for tourism operations in the Churchill area for access to world-class polar bear viewing opportunities. The number of commercial tour operators and the number of vehicles permitted on the high-use areas east of the townsite continues to be restricted. Measures are also taken to restrict travel to existing trails, designate some areas as off-limits, and more actively enforce the prohibition on baiting.
Bear condition and productivity has declined steadily over the last decade. Fall weight of all age classes for both sexes declined, and a steady decline was seen in spring weight of adult females leaving the denning area with cubs. The reproductive rate of females also declined, as did the survival rate of cubs. Researchers from the Canadian Wildlife Service continue to investigating this trend and its possible causes.Manitoba designated the polar bear as threatened under The Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act on February 7, 2008. This designation is in addition to the designation as a protected species under The Wildlife Act and enhanced protection provided by The Resource Tourism Operators Act and, The Polar Bear Protection Act.
Manitoba participates on the Canadian Polar Bear Technical Committee and Advisory Committee which meet yearly to discuss polar bear management issues.