Canada is set to include the polar bear on its list of species at risk, but not as a threatened or endangered species.
The federal government gave notice this month that it intends to list the Arctic animal as a species of special concern — one level below threatened and two levels below endangered — under the Species at Risk Act.
The move would require a plan to be devised within three years to prevent the species from becoming endangered or threatened.
Environment Minister Peter Kent’s office did not a return a call for comment. The proposal to list polar bears under the act was announced on July 2, and interested parties have 30 days to weigh in.
Ottawa’s move comes almost three years after the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), an arm’s-length scientific advisory body, recommended the special-concern listing for the polar bear.
The United States listed the polar bear as a threatened species in 2008, citing shrinking sea ice due to climate change.
Canada’s Species at Risk Act came into force in 2003 to provide legal protection for wildlife in danger of becoming extinct.