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RYAN LEEF, M.P. YUKON Heather Cobban Re: Polar Bear Protection

Dear Heather:

Thank you for writing to my office and expressing your support for the protection of polar bears. Polar bears are an important part of Canada’s wildlife. As such, governments, both federal and provincial / territorial, have a responsibility to ensure that harvesting is sustainable and fair. This must respect first and foremost the species, to ensure that they do not become endangered or extinct solely due to human influence. Current estimates put the number of polar bears in the wild at 20,000 to 25,000. This is spread across 19 subpopulations in a handful of northern countries. These estimates, which are supported by a wide variety of scientific organizations, are very strong. Based on these numbers, the global polar bear population has quadrupled over the last 40 years. In 2008, researchers at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania commissioned reviews and found significant errors in many of the pessimistic studies that had been invoked during the push to declare polar bears endangered. They concluded that such models should be considered “unscientific and inconsequential to decision makers.” Here in Canada, we continue to responsibly manage the polar bear population. In the year 2010, Government of Nunavut officials announced that the polar bear quota for the Baffin Bay region would be gradually reduced from 105 bears per year to 65 bears per year, by the year 2013. The Government of the Northwest Territories institutes a quota of 72 to 103 bears within the Inuvialuit communities. A portion of those quotas are set aside for sport hunters, although the majority is allocated directly to Inuit and First Nations. From a federal perspective, Environment Canada banned the export from Canada of fur, claws, skulls and other products from polar bears harvested in the Baffin Bay region as of January 1, 2010.

Our government continues to monitor and manage the polar bear species in a responsible fashion. Thank you for sending me your concerns, and I look forward to continuing to work in Ottawa on behalf of Yukoners.


Ryan Leef

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