A group of Inuit in Clyde River, Nunavut, is taking the initiative to research polar bear denning habits on the north and east side of Baffin Island.

A committee was formed to oversee the project.

Inutiq Iqaqrialu, who heads the committee, said there is not a lot scientific information on denning, and that's why he came up with the idea.

"Clyde River, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq - we want to understand how many cubs are born in these dens. That's why I began this project and also with the development of Baffinland we need to do more research on our good food sources," said Iqaqrialu in Inuktitut, mentioning the large iron ore mine which was given the green light last year.


The group plans to research denning habits on the north and east side of Baffin Island in Nunavut. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

He says he hopes money will come through for a workshop they are planning with Pond Inlet, Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq.

Iqaqrialu says they want to hear from elders first. He says the committee might have to wait until next winter for the field project.

It’s getting support from a polar bear conservation centre — the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, located at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg.

"This is a great initiative on their part and really I see our role as just supporting that however we can," said Stephen Petersen, who is with the centre.

The centre takes in orphaned cubs and raises them for the zoo. Petersen said his research comes only from collected data, but that data is often sporadic and inconsistent.

"Most areas we are noticing just really don't have a lot of information out there on them. What we hope is that with a monitoring strategy that the communities are doing themselves they'll be able to collect that data themselves and look at trends over time."

Petersen says eventually there will be a draft monitoring plan from his research. He says the information collected by Inuit will provide a better understanding of polar bears.