In 2008, COSEWIC assessed Polar Bear as a species of Special Concern in Canada because of population declines in some Canadian sub-populations and concerns about the impact of climate change on sea ice. This status was re-examined and confirmed in 2018. Polar Bears were listed as Special Concern in Canada under the federal Species at Risk Act in 2011.
The NWT Species at Risk Committee assessed Polar Bear as a species of Special Concern in the NWT in 2012 and again in 2021. In 2014, Polar Bears were listed as Special Concern in the NWT under the Species at Risk (NWT) Act and another 10-year term was added in 2022. An Inuvialuit Settlement Region Polar Bear Joint Management Plan and a Framework for Action for Management of Polar Bears in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region have been completed.
In the NWT, all human-caused mortality of Polar Bears is strictly managed through a quota system recommended by the wildlife co-management boards. Inuvialuit have exclusive rights to hunt Polar Bears in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region but can transfer that right to other hunters. The Inuvialuit have Polar Bear management agreements with the Inuit of Nunavut and the Inupiat of Alaska.
Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), any international shipment of Polar Bears or their parts requires a permit. There is also an International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears which was signed in 1976.