Hunters in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, still waiting for decision on exporting polar bear hides

A mother polar bear and cub near Churchill, Man. (Elisha Dacey/CBC)

Hunters in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, are still waiting to hear the final word on when they can resume exporting polar bear hides to other countries.

In February, Environment and Climate Change Canada temporarily paused export permits for southern Hudson Bay polar bears so it can update a document that shows it’s legal and sustainable to do so.

That’s because Canada is part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora — known generally as CITES, which is also the name of the export permit.

“We’re still working on it because we don’t know what kind of response we’re going to get,” said Lucassie Arragutainaq, the manager of Sanikiluaq’s hunters and trappers association, when asked for his thoughts on the pause.

The issue surfaced in the Nunavut Legislature last week, with Environment Minister David Akeeagok condemning the pause as unacceptable. At the time, Akeeagok said he planned to keep raising the issue with his federal counterpart in the hope the federal government would “do the right thing.”

Polar bears are co-managed by federal, territorial and Inuit governments.

In an email, Environment and Climate Change Canada spokesperson Samuel Lafontaine said there have been changes to how polar bears are managed since 2018 that have to be taken into consideration for its update.

“These factors are being considered carefully,” he wrote.

Lafontaine said there have been four permit requests for southern Hudson Bay polar bears since the 2020-21 harvest season.

He said permits are still being processed for polar bears in other areas. Permits for southern Hudson Bay bears are being held for now.

With files from Emma Tranter

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Hunters in Arctic Canadian city want to double 2018 polar bear harvest, CBC News

Finland: Villages in western Finland concerned by jump in wolf population, Yle News

Norway: Polar bear shot dead after attacking person on Svalbard, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia plans fenced parks to confine reindeer herding in Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Poachers suspected behind dwindling wolf numbers in Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States: After deadly bear attack, hikers in Anchorage, Alaska weigh risks, Alaska Public Media

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