Distribution and Abundance of Canadian Polar Bear Populations: A Management Perspective

  • Mitchell Taylor
  • John Lee
Keywords: Animal distribution, Animal population, Animal tagging, Polar bears, Wildlife management, Wildlife habitat, Alaska, Canadian Arctic, Greenland, North American Arctic


Seasonal fidelity to relatively local areas and natural obstacles to movements allow the range of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in Canada to be divided into 12 relatively distinct populations. These divisions are not the only ones possible, and may not be the best ones; however, they were consistent with observed movements of marked bears. The average area of sea ice (mainly annual ice) that constitutes polar bear habitat for populations within and shared with Canada was estimated to total approximately 3.1 million sq km in April each year. The density estimates of polar bears ranged between 1.1 and 10.4 bears per 1000 sq km with a weighted mean of 4.1 bears per 1000 sq km. The sum of polar bear population estimates within or partially within Canada is approximately 12 700. However, the available data were insufficient to quantify the precision and accuracy of some population estimates.

Key words: abundance, Arctic, bear, distribution, polar bear, population, Ursus maritimus