Evolved for life on the ice
But climate change is warming the Arctic faster than any other place on Earth, and the ice cover has been changing rapidly, in both extent and thickness, and shrinking far too quickly for these species to adapt.
As the Arctic warms and changes, whales, seals, walruses and polar bears are at risk. These species are critical for the role they play in a functioning ecosystem, as well as their importance to the culture and subsistence economies of northern hunting communities. We need to consider ways to reduce the impact of climate change and human activities on Arctic wildlife, before irreparable damage is done. To conserve these priority species, the time to act is now.
Canada: home to most of the world’s polar bearsWhen it comes to conserving Arctic wildlife, Canada has a special role to play. As the country responsible for the second largest area of the Arctic, Canada is home to huge regions of nearly pristine natural ecosystems, not to mention the majority of the world’s polar bear, beluga, narwhal and bowhead whale populations. This gives us a unique opportunity to develop and implement responsible, sustainable long-term plans, so that nature and wildlife can thrive.
The path to Arctic wildlife conservationThe most important action to help conserve these species is to slow the rate of climate change, to minimize its impact on the Arctic ecosystem to which they are adapted.
At the same time, we need to identify the areas that are particularly important for ecosystem resilience both now and into the future, and take the necessary steps to conserve that resilience. And we need to reduce the impact of new and additional stressors on these animals, especially from new industrial developments carried out without adequate planning.
Tracking Arctic speciesIdentifying important areas for species is essential for planning for a healthy Arctic future. We need to know where different species of animals go to feed, mate, give birth and raise their young. And with so few people and so much space in the Arctic, this information can be difficult to come by.
Traditional knowledge from indigenous peoples can be invaluable, providing insight developed over generations. And new information is increasingly available thanks to tracking technologies that allow us to see where and when species spend their time.
WWF supports tracking of a number of species, including polar bears, narwhals, Greenland sharks, and bowhead whales.
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