World Wildlife Fund Canada is providing financial support for polar bear research in the North.

The environmental group gave $82,000 to the Government of the Northwest Territories for population surveys in Viscount Melville Sound, near Banks Island.

WWF also provided another $111,000 to Environment Canada for the Nunavut Government to support its surveys in Baffin Bay and Kane Basin. That polar bear population is shared with Greenland.

Clive Tesar, with WWF, said the group is interested in finding out how many polar bears there are, where they’re located and what shape the bears are in.

"Because those populations can become increasingly important in the future if, as we suspect, the viability of populations further south begins to be affected by the loss of the summer sea ice," Tesar said.

Debate over the size of the polar bear population in Baffin Bay-Kane Basin has been ongoing for years.

In 2008, the European Union placed a ban on any sport-hunted trophies from the area. The ban is in place until the population surveys can determine if the hunt there is sustainable. Results are expected this spring.