April 20, 2008 05:00 ET

Prime Minister Must Act Swiftly to Avert Polar Bear Crisis: WWF-Canada

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 20, 2008) - WWF-Canada today called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to quickly bring in measures to prevent polar bears from slipping towards regional extinctions, as the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) begins assessing the crisis affecting Canada's polar bears. Their recommendations will be released to the Federal Government this Friday, April 25th.

"There is rapidly mounting evidence that many polar bear populations are in crisis as a result of sea-ice habitat loss, over-hunting and industrial development pressures," said Dr. Peter Ewins, Director, Species Conservation, WWF-Canada. "Without strong leadership from the Prime Minister to change our outdated approach to how we manage our natural resources, some polar bear populations will become extint by 2050.

To view the accompanying photo, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/polarbear0418.jpg

Photo Caption:

Threatened polar bear mother and cubs in Hudson Bay.

Photo Credit:

Dr. Peter Ewins/WWF-Canada

Canada (which hosts 2/3 of the world's polar bears) is now failing to safeguard the survival of polar bears. Some of the most significant examples are:

- Canada's CO2 emissions continue to rise, while there is still no federal plan to meet Canada's international obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. Without an aggressive plan for energy conservation, renewable energy, and legally-binding reductions of industrial emissions, Arctic sea-ice will continue to melt.

- Over-hunting in Nunavut and Greenland has contributed to a massive 30% decline in the Baffin Bay polar bear population in the past 10 years.

- Important habitat for polar bears and whales in the Beaufort Sea is set to be sold off to oil and gas interests on June 2, 2008 in the absence of proper resource planning that would protect such sensitive wildlife habitats.

"Research is showing that increasing numbers of Beaufort Sea polar bears are starving and walking all the way to Russia, or far inland, in search of food," concluded Ewins. "Without leadership from the federal government, we can expect reports of hungry bears to continue, such as the recent incident in the community of Deline where the RCMP shot three desperately hungry bears."

This news release and associated material can be found on wwf.ca.

Contact Information

  • WWF-Canada
    Dr. Peter Ewins
    Director, Species Conservation
    Cell: (647) 400-9576
    Website: www.wwf.ca