In 2002, the Canadian federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) established COSEWIC, an independent body of experts, with the responsibility of identifying and assessing the risk of extinction for wildlife species in Canada. The assessment is a process based on science, Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge and community knowledge. COSEWIC's current mandate includes all native mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, arthropods, mollusks, vascular plants, mosses and lichens. Wildlife species designated by COSEWIC may then be eligible for legal protection under SARA.
COSEWIC has assessed polar bear status several times since 1986, with the most recent assessment in 2008 being of “Special Concern”. A Special Concern status in Canada refers to wildlife species that could become threatened or endangered because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.
For more information, please visit the COSEWIC website.