Iconic symbols of our wild places, bears are formidable and intelligent predators. Their raw power and immense size foster both fear and fascination. Unfortunately, some populations are threatened by habitat loss and human activity - making conservation efforts critical to their survival. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has assessed polar bears and western populations of the grizzly bear as being of special concern. Polar bears are affected significantly by the loss of sea ice due to climate change, while grizzlies are dwindling in number due to human encroachment.
These are the four bears on the stamps
The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) gets its name from the lighter tips that often appear on its guard hairs, which gives it a grizzled appearance.
The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is, on average, the largest bear species in the world and actually has black skin.
Named after its most common colour, the American black bear (Ursus americanus) is the most widely distributed bear species in North America.
Found in coastal regions of British Columbia, the Kermode bear (also Ursus americanus) is a population of black bears capable of producing rare, white-coloured offspring.
With more than 30 years as a professional photographer, Ottawa-based Valberg is a Nikon Ambassador and one of two inaugural Canadian Geographic photographers-in-residence. Postma, who lives in Yukon, has travelled around the world for more than 20 years capturing award-winning images.
The stamp issue, designed by Andrew Perro and printed by Lowe-Martin, is available in a booklet of eight stamps and as a pane of four. The Official First Day Cover is cancelled in Klemtu, B.C., home of the Tsimshian First Nations - for whom white-coloured Kermode bears hold special meaning.
The stamps and related collectibles are available at canadapost.ca/shop and postal outlets across Canada. High-resolution images are available, as is additional information in Details magazine.