Alaska hunters fret about polar bear ruling
Standing on the edge of the receding sea ice-shelf offshore from Barrow, some 350 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Nayakik, a member of the Inupiat peoples who have inhabited northern Alaska for centuries, says polar bears are a staple food for his family.
"I like to eat bear meat almost every winter, can't go without it," he said. "It is almost like taking the cow away from the white folks."
The Bush administration's ruling on Wednesday left residents of the northernmost point in the United States uncertain about how their lives and customs will change.
Nayakik, who uses polar bear fur for his family's bedding, said news of the listing has him wondering if hunts will lead to sanctions or jail time.
He estimates that about 20 bears a year are killed by authorized Inupiat hunters in the Barrow area.
"The Inupiat have hunted the polar bear for years, not necessarily for trophy matters but for food, and the hide itself is used for clothing materials," said Barrow Mayor Michael Stotts.
"It is considered a delicacy. It is considered an honor in the Inupiat tradition to be able to capture and have a polar bear," he said.
I am keeping my comments to myself on this one.