The Government of Nunavut will raise the polar bear quota in the Western Hudson Bay area to 21 from eight, Minister of Environment Dan Shewchuk announced Friday.

The total allowable harvest for polar bears from the Western Hudson Bay population was slashed in 2007 to 38 from 56, and then to eight the following year.

"The increase is because we have listened to the communities and Inuit knowledge and there are more bears being sighted, more bears in the communities," said Shewchuk. "So we felt, at this time, for this period of one year, that we would take and use Inuit knowledge and increase the quota."

According to Environment Canada, Canada is home to about 15,500 of the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in global polar regions.

The exact size of the Western Hudson Bay population is not known but people in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut say polar bears are becoming such a problem in some communities that self-defence kills have become more common. 

Jimmy Muckpah Napayok, 18, killed a bear Thursday night near his home in Arviat. He was confronted by the bear, which had been attacking his dog team.

"The bears are not in decline," said Lois Suluk-Locke, a resident of Arviat. "There’s been so many and it's been so scary. I am so happy that the quota was raised and they will be put to good use."

Shewchuk said Nunavut may be criticized for raising polar bear quotas but he said an in-depth population survey was recently completed and those numbers will be used to determine next year's quota.