November 17, 2008 10:48 ET

WWF-Canada Applauds Minister Prentice for Commitment to Help Prevent Over-Hunting of Polar Bears

TORONTO, ONTAIRO--(Marketwire - Nov. 17, 2008) - WWF-Canada today congratulated Minister Prentice for agreeing to convene in the next 60 days a round-table meeting to address overhunting of polar bears in the Baffin Bay region of the Arctic, straddling Canada and Greenland.

Convening a round-table with stakeholders was the first of three key steps called for by WWF-Canada in a letter sent last week to the Environment Minister. The remaining steps include: working with the Nunavut government to ensure an immediate cessation of polar bear harvesting in the depleted Baffin Bay subpopulation until the population has recovered and a bilateral agreement with Greenland is in place; and implementing a Conservation Action Plan for Canada's polar bears that addresses all main threats, including climate change.

WWF-Canada's letter and the Minister's promise to convene a round table stem from recent decisions by both Nunavut and Greenland to allow continued over-harvesting of polar bears in the Baffin Bay polar bear sub-population, which straddles the border between Canada and Greenland, despite expert recommendations to significantly reduce the number of bears killed.

"We thank Minister Prentice for quickly agreeing to take the first step to help solve this over-harvesting problem", said Gerald Butts, President and CEO of WWF-Canada. "At this stage, it is an agreement to talk - meanwhile, hunters can begin filling their quota at any moment. For the round table to have any impact, it must come together to quickly reduce hunting allocations, and set the stage for a lasting bilateral agreement to allow the population to recover", concluded Mr. Butts.

According to the Nunavut government's recent analyses, over the past 15 years this sub-population has been over-harvested in Greenland and Nunavut, resulting in a 30 per cent decline. Yet, both Greenland and Nunavut decision-makers have confirmed their intentions to allow continued harvesting in the coming year at these unsustainable levels. Additionally, the impacts of climate change have yet to be taken into account by Canada and Greenland.

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

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