More polar bears spotted in N.W.T., Nunavut communities

Residents say the lack of sea ice and hunger may be driving bears closer to arctic hamlets.

Residents say lack of sea ice, hunger driving them closer to arctic hamlets

Residents of some arctic communities say polar bears are getting too close for comfort. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

People in Clyde River, Nunavut, had to shoot three polar bears this week when a mother and two cubs were spotted in the hamlet.

Apiusi Apak, a hunter and the community’s mayor, said a mother bear and two cubs were chased away early in the day on Tuesday but later returned.

"The mother was very skinny and seemed starving. The cubs looked a little better," he said.

Apak said the community’s fall bear quota is gone and residents are warned daily about the polar bears.

He said part of the problem is the late freeze up.

"Due to windy fall season the ocean is not freezing. We expect that when it freezes the polar bears will move on."

People in Ulukhaktok, N.W.T. and Sachs Harbour, N.W.T. have also been reporting more frequent bear sightings this year.

Ulukhaktok residents on skidoos chased away three bears Tuesday.

Hunter Robert Kuptana said the bears must be hungry and he hopes the animals won't develop a taste for dog food.

"A couple of doors down the road, they have a dog, and (the owners) fed it, and I guess that's what the polar bear smelled," he said. "It went to that dog and started eating his food, and one of them was fighting him for a while."

Kuptana also said the bears may be coming closer because there’s not enough sea ice.