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Management Objectives for Polar Bears Need Review

Nunavut Tunngavik Vice-President James Eetoolook said today that a review of the management objectives for polar bears should be considered by the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.

The current management system for polar bears began in the 1970s when quotas were first introduced. At that time, the polar bear population in Nunavut was estimated between 7,000 – 8,000 bears. In the 1980s, the concept of sub-populations for polar bears was introduced, and management plans were established to increase polar bear populations.

“Inuit have managed and harvested polar bears with the specific management objective of increasing their population for many years. We are now asking the NWMB to review the management objectives because the population has increased across Nunavut to 14,000 – 16,000 polar bears,” said Eetoolook.

Eetoolook cited the example of the Davis Strait polar bear sub-population. He said the ideal population level for polar bears in that management zone is 1,650. Scientific research estimates there are 2,300 bears in Davis Strait.

”The increase in the number of polar bears is a concern because of public safety for people on the land, and it also affects the other animals and the balance of nature.” said Eetoolook.

The objectives of the management system will be discussed during a public hearing the NWMB will conduct in Iqaluit next week, May 16-17.