Polar Bears in Manitoba
Agreements, Legislation, and Policy for
the Protection of Polar Bears in Manitoba
Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears and their
Habitat and the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group
- The management of polar bears is guided by the International
Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears and their Habitat
that was signed in Oslo, Norway in 1973 by the five polar
range states (Canada, Denmark, Norway, USA, and the former
USSR). The Agreement forms an action plan for polar bear
- The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) was officially
established under the umbrella of the IUCN Species Survival
Commission in 1968. It’s work provided the basis for the
1973 agreement and the group continues to provide informed
advice on polar bear management.
- The PBSG has at present 24 members, all research scientists
from the five nations signing the Agreement. They meet every 3-5
years to discuss matters pertaining to research and management
of polar bears throughout their range. The last meeting was held
in Denmark in June 2009. The group invites specialists as felt
necessary to address specific research and management issues of
- The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
of Wild Fauna and Flora (1973) (CITES) has been in effect
since July 1975.
- Polar bears are included in Appendix II to the Convention
("all species which although not necessarily now
threatened with extinction, may become so unless trade in
specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation to
avoid utilization incompatible with their survival").
- Since July 1975, a permanent record of all polar bears,
hides, or any other products legally exported from or imported
to Canada has been maintained by the Federal Government
through the issue of permits.
National/Inter-jurisdictional Programs and Agreements
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)
- COSEWIC assigns national status to species at risk in Canada.
It is a committee of representatives from federal, provincial,
territorial, and private agencies, as well as independent
- COSEWIC designated the polar bear as "Not At Risk"
in 1986, which was upgraded to "Vulnerable" in 1991.
No change in status was recommended in an updated status
report for polar bears submitted to the COSEWIC Mammal
Subcommittee in summer 1998 (Stirling and Taylor 1999). In
April 1999, COSEWIC again listed the polar bear as
- Species designations were recently changed, with the former
category "Vulnerable" being replaced by the category
"Special Concern". Consequently, COSEWIC currently
lists the polar bear as a species of "Special
Concern". Species of special concern have characteristics
that make them particularly sensitive to human activities or
natural events that could lead to endangerment.
Federal Provincial Polar Bear Technical Committee(PBTC) and
Advisory Committee (PBAC)
- Manitoba participates on the PBTC and PBAC which meet yearly
to discuss polar bear management issues.