MEDIA ADVISORY - Students from Coquitlam to Ottawa to mark International Polar Bear Day with Polar Bear Walks for WWF-Canada

GUELPH, ON, Feb. 24, 2017 /CNW/ - Students from more than 45 schools across the country will bundle up and trek to class on foot this week, walking to support polar bears – a species among those most affected as the Arctic warms and sea ice melts.

The walks, taking place between Feb. 27 and March 3, aim to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of climate change on wildlife. Proceeds will be donated to WWF-Canada to fund conservation initiatives to protect Arctic species and their habitats.

Media and the public are invited to attend Sean Hutton's flagship walk in Guelph, Ont. on International Polar Bear Day, Monday, Feb. 27.

About the walk
The Polar Bear Walk was founded in 2013 by polar bear enthusiast and WWF-Canada supporter Sean Hutton, who was just seven years old at the time. Each year since then, Sean has mobilized friends, schools and communities to take action by walking to school on International Polar Bear Day.

In October, Sean was recognized during WE DAY for his contribution to the environment and travelled to Churchill, Man., to see polar bears in the wild for the first time. To mark the fifth anniversary of the Polar Bear Walk, students from Coquitlam, B.C., to Ottawa have organized walks – creating a national movement to protect Arctic ecosystems for polar bears and other Arctic wildlife.

When: International Polar Bear Day, Monday, Feb. 27, from 8:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. ET

Where: Holy Trinity Catholic School 487 Grange Rd, Guelph, Ont. N1E 0C4
Students will meet at Sean's home and begin their walk to school at 8:30 a.m.

Who:

  • Sean Hutton, founder of Polar Bear Walk
  • Peter Ewins, WWF-Canada lead species expert
  • Cam Guthrie, Mayor of the City of Guelph
  • Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament

Other Polar Bear Walks include:

  • Coquitlam, B.C.: Dr. Charles Best Secondary, led by students Alanna and Claire.
  • Toronto: Claude Watson School for the Arts, led by teacher Ian Handscomb.
  • Cambridge, Ont.: École Saint-Noël-Chabanel, led by teacher Lucie Lahaie.
  • London, Ont.: Community-wide, led by elementary students Arabella and Maximus Quattrocchi.
  • Ottawa: Carleton University, led by WWF campus club president Lydia Klotz.

For more information about the Polar Bear Walk, visit polarbearwalk.wwf.ca

Key threats to Polar Bears

  • Loss of sea ice habitat through rapid climate change: The polar bear's future is inextricably linked to its sea ice habitat, which they rely on for every aspect of their lives – it's where they move and hunt, mate and raise their cubs. Though most of Canada's polar bear subpopulations are currently stable, a new study estimates that polar bear numbers are likely to decline by at least one third by 2050 as sea ice shrinks.
  • Loss of primary prey due to reduced sea ice and snow cover: Sea ice is also essential habitat for their primary food, ringed seals, as seals pup and rest on the ice. Without the ice, polar bears cannot hunt and have to swim farther or spend more time on land.
  • Increased industrial activities: A warmer Arctic is open to new development possibilities, which can disturb denning females.

At least two-thirds of the world's polar bears live in the Canadian Arctic, giving Canadians a special responsibility for these iconic bears.

Sean Hutton, founder of Polar Bear Walk, says:
"Climate change is having a negative impact on polar bears, other Arctic species and marine life around the world. On International Polar Bear Day, I am asking Canadians to join the Polar Bear Walk and take steps against climate change. Together, kids can help polar bears and change the world."

David Miller, president and CEO of WWF-Canada, says:
"WWF-Canada is proud of young environmentalists like Sean Hutton and all of the students who are taking action for polar bears. Sean's love for polar bears and his drive to do something about the threats they face is remarkable. Sean is a great example of how Canadians of any age can make a lasting difference for wildlife and the planet."

About World Wildlife Fund Canada
WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit wwf.ca.

SOURCE WWF-Canada

For further information: Emily Vandermeer, communications specialist, evandermeer@wwfcanada.org, +1 416-489-8800 ext. 7298

RELATED LINKS
www.wwf.ca

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