Polar Bears in Manitoba
Agreements, Legislation, and Policy for
the Protection of Polar Bears in Manitoba
Manitoba Legislation and Policy
Protection of Denning Habitat
With the establishment of Wapusk National Park in 1996 and the transfer of land from the provincial crown to the federal crown completed in March 1998, the majority of the maternity denning habitat in Manitoba is now protected by Parks Canada. Maternity denning habitat outside of Wapusk National Park remains under Manitoba jurisdiction and occurs now in the Kaskatamagan Wildlife Management Area, which contains the former Cape Tatnam WMA, renamed and expanded in 2009 to include lands further inland. The management objectives are to protect the environment, to keep a sustainable wildlife population and to provide recreational opportunities in a sustainable manner.
The Wildlife Act
- Polar bears have historically always had some form of protection in Manitoba since they are wildlife within the meaning of The Wildlife Act, ie., wild by nature in Manitoba.
- Hunting and killing of polar bear was first prohibited in 1949 when hunting was limited to bona fide residents of the Hudson Bay coastal area.
- In 1954, natives were prohibited from selling or otherwise disposing of polar bears or parts thereof and any person other than a native was prohibited from being in possession of a polar bear or any part thereof.
- In 1963, the polar bear was listed as Big Game under Division 1 of the Act. This listing occurred primarily to be consistent with other large mammals that have usually been viewed as being a big game species. Manitoba has never had a sport hunting or trapping season for polar bears despite this classification.
- In 1991, the status of the species in Schedule A to the Act was changed from Big Game to Protected Species. This change in status did not confer any additional protection, but was intended to convey that this was not a huntable species in Manitoba. The change was also consistent with the interprovincial, national and international status of the species.
The Polar Bear Protection Act
The Polar Bear Protection Act was given Royal Assent on August 2, 2002. The act;
- establishes the grounds under which a live polar bear may be procured or considered for placement in a captive situation, (educational, scientific or other purpose deemed to be in the public interest), and the prioritization for such placement (provincial, national or international);
- establishes prohibitions, to the extent that a provincial authority is empowered to regulate such matters, respecting off-shore issues such as use of a live polar bear in contravention of Manitoba policies or laws;
- establishes provision for regulations by the minister respecting matters such as permit eligibility and facility and care standards that must be met by any agency in order to be eligible to receive a polar bear.