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Wildlife Branch


Polar Bears in Manitoba


Protection of Polar Bears in Manitoba

 Manitoba and Canada are party to a number of agreements respecting the protection of polar bears and Manitoba has a robust legislative and policy framework in place for the protection of polar bears and residents of Churchill, the only community where bears and people routinely interact.

The Government of Manitoba actively participates in the management of the polar bears' welfare through provincial programs or cooperative programs with other jurisdictions.

Manitoba SD must occasionally remove polar bears from Churchill to protect life and property and must balance conflicting public opinion regarding placement in zoos and animal welfare.

Concern over the status and use of polar bears in captive situations led to an expansion and strengthening of provincial legislation.  The Polar Bear Protection Act and Regulations became law in 2002 and were specifically implemented to prevent the use of Manitoba polar bears in an unacceptable manner such as by a circus.  The regulation permits orphaned cubs-of-the-year (COY) to be donated to zoos that meet or exceed the specified facility and husbandry standards and prohibits the capture of polar bears specifically for donation to zoos.  Manitoba’s facility and husbandry standards have been widely hailed as among the best published standards in the world. The Act recognizes the contribution of zoos to wildlife SD and SD education and that zoos with appropriate facilities and husbandry practices can provide an acceptable quality of life for polar bears.

A foster parenting study, conducted in conjunction with Manitoba SD by a British animal welfare organization called The Born Free Foundation, took place in the Churchill area between 2000/2001 and 2009/2010 to determine if female bears with one healthy cub would accept a second orphaned cub.  The study was terminated in 2010 due to a lack of success.