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Bear Haven

Polar bears are losing their homelands as the ice melts around them. But some of them are getting help.

It’s not news that polar bear habitat is disappearing as land and sea ice melts. A long-term solution demands less global warming. But in the meantime, this year, Canadian workers broke ground on the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre at Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The $4.5 million facility will be a hub for polar bear research, and also provide temporary housing for orphaned bear cubs, injured young bears or those affected by disasters such as oil spills.

The conservation group Polar Bears International, headquartered in Bozeman, MT, has been deeply involved in the effort and will contribute to research, education and other initiatives at the center.

“As the sea ice continues to diminish, scientists anticipate an increased number of polar bears in need of help,” said Robert Buchanan, president of PBI. “The IPBCC is preparing now for the difficult challenges ahead. It will play a unique and invaluable role in establishing and coordinating polar bear rescue efforts.”

Saving the polar bears is going to involve a full spectrum of people concerned about wildlife, according to Dr. Andrew Derocher, a senior member of PBI’s Scientific Advisory Council. “It needs everyone pulling in the same direction,” he said. “From biologists to nongovernmental organizations to zoos, but most importantly, the public, everyone must be engaged.”

The new center is expected to be completed by year’s end.

Photos courtesy of Polar Bears International