Polar bear hunt to continue
105 polar bears will still be able to be killed by hunters in Nunavut's Baffin Bay as the environment minister has agreed to leave the quota the same, despite the fact that the bears are endangered species and killing too many could seriously over-tip the balance.
CBC News has learned that outgoing Environment Minister Olayuk Akesuk accepted a recommendation from the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board not to cut the Baffin Bay polar bear quota — also known as the total allowable harvest — for this season.
Territorial government staff had wanted to cut the quota to 64 bears or less. They've argued for the past three years that the harvest there is too high, in part because of hunting in nearby Greenland.
"Combined harvest in the Baffin Bay should not exceed about 90 animals, and presently with the combined harvest from Nunavut and Greenland, it's 176," Drikus Gissing, Nunavut's director of wildlife management, told CBC News on Tuesday.
"So it's a significant overharvesting that's taking place in this population."
But at a public hearing held in Pond Inlet in April, dozens of hunters from Pond Inlet, Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq told the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board that the polar bear population in Baffin Bay is on the rise, not decreasing.
The hunters also argued that the government's bid to reduce the polar bear hunt was based on outdated information.
Gissing said the minister agreed to keep the quota unchanged this year in Baffin Bay partly because of the hunters' concerns, and partly because of the amount of time it took for the wildlife board to render a decision.
The government submitted its proposal to the board in 2007, and a decision came about a year and a half later.
A backlash from the international community is expected, but it is likely a different agreement will have to be reached for the hunt next year. Most likely a different number will have to be reached as the number of polar bears are dwindling in number as it is.
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Port McNeill, British Columbia, Canada