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NTI Opposes American Designation of Polar Bears as Endangered

NR 07-05 POL ENG Polar Bear Resolution.doc

(March 2, 2007 – Rankin Inlet, Nunavut) The Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. Board of Directors passed a resolution at their recent meeting in Kugaaruk adamantly opposing the United States’ proposed listing of polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The resolution also demanded the American government use Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit in an assessment of polar bears to determine their current standing.

The designation of threatened under the Endangered Species Act is a result of non-government organizations attempting to lobby the United States government to officially recognize climate change. Their application to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is based on evidence of global warming.

NTI 2nd Vice-President Raymond Ningeocheak said the application is based on a forecast, adding that it threatens Inuit harvesting culture.

Much of the justification for the listing is based on a forecasted prediction of climate change and the depletion of sea ice, and incomplete scientific information on the western Hudson Bay polar bear population. They are speculating that there is a decline in the polar bear population, said Ningeocheak. Polar bears in Canada have shown a steady increase in number over the past 50 years. Furthermore, scientists know that polar bear populations are cyclical and fluctuate.

Ningeocheak also noted that the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit belief is that the western Hudson Bay polar bear population has not suffered a decline, but rather changed in distribution.

If the designation is successful, it will restrict the importation of polar bear skins into the United States, thereby eliminating American polar bear sports hunts in Nunavut.

This would be a significant loss to the Nunavut economy, said Ningeocheak.

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