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Counting polar bears

The Story

It's not as easy as 1, 2, 3. Charged with deciding how many polar bears can be killed in the territory, Nunavut's wildlife board first has to know just how many of them are out there. But the two groups advising the board - biologists and Inuit elders - don't agree. In this 2007 CBC-TV report, longtime polar bear researcher Ian Stirling advises caution, due to declining numbers and the current unsustainable harvest. But Inuit elders in the Kivalliq region want to boost the quota, saying they're seeing more bears than ever.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: June 15, 2007
Guest: Ian Stirling
Reporter: John Main
Duration: 8:39

Did You know?

• In September 2007 the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board rendered its decision. For the Kivalliq region in western Hudson Bay, they reduced the number of polar bears allowed to be hunted from 56 to 38. The territory's environment minister, Patterk Netser, told CBC News the decision was based on both Inuit knowledge and western science.

• The following year, 2008, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board slashed the polar bear quota for Kivalliq to just eight, from 38. Taking issue with how the polar bear population was calculated, the Kivalliq Wildlife Board disputed the decision and notified the territorial government that it would disregard the eight-bear quota and issue 38 hunting tags.

• In the Baffin Bay region of Nunavut, the polar bear quota for 2008 remained stable at 105. According to CBC News, the territorial government was concerned about overhunting and favoured a cut to 64 bears. But hunters' objections and the long wait for a decision compelled Environment Minister Olayuk Akesuk to maintain the same quota.





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