The first of a three-part polar bear count in Nunavut’s Kitikmeot region has wrapped up, but it will be impossible to arrive at an estimate of the M’Clintock population until the survey is done, in 2016.
The last figures date back to 2001. Environment Canada figured there were 284 polar bears in the area then, after the 1998-2000 survey.
It was a considerable drop from an estimated high of 700 bears, in the 1970s.
Nunavut reacted by banning harvesting for two years.
In 2003, hunting resumed with a quota set at three bears annually, down from 32 a few years before.
Hunters: raise the limit
The government and local hunters and trappers agreed to the limit with the aim to restore the population to 750 individuals.
In the absence of recent data, the Kitikmeot Regional Wildlife Board still put in a request last year for the quota to be increased to 18 polar bears per season.
Public consultations were held in June on the issue.
The Canadian Wildlife Service recommended a maximum of 13 bears be killed, its director general Sue Milburn-Hopwood explaining in a letter to the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board that hunting any more bears would “most almost certainly contribute to a population decline in the M’Clintock Channel.”
The territory’s Wildlife Management Board is supposed to render a decision next week.
Related stories from around the North:
United States: Researchers turn to satellite monitoring to count polar bear populations, Alaska Dispatch
Norway: Arctic Norway needs polar bear spotter, The Associated Press
Russia: Russia hosts meeting on polar bears, Eye on the Arctic