Nunavut Residences Having Issues With Grizzlies

Canada News Service, Bear Hunting Magazine

While the Nunavut government works on a management plan to deal with grizzly bears, residents in at least two communities have reported close calls with the big animals.

Cambridge Bay MLA Keith Peterson said people have even asked him what they should do if they see a grizzly. "Many of my constituents don't know what the law allows them to do in different circumstances," Peterson told the legislative assembly. "One of my constituents told me last night that he's worried if he shoots a bear, that he will be charged."

Environment Minister Olayuk Akesuk said his department is working on a management strategy that would eventually lead to clearer rules and more research on the bears.

"As of now, the [Nunavut government] has developed a draft grizzly bear management plan and, up to now, we haven't done a consultation," Akesuk said. "Once that is done, we'll make sure that we do the [population] counts in the future."

Peterson estimated 20 to 30 bears live on Victoria Island, where Cambridge Bay is located. That has led to more bear spottings by cabin owners near the hamlet, including one constituent who, Peterson said, watched a grizzly and three cubs approach his cabin.

"He got out a satellite phone and he actually called the wildlife office and asked how he should proceed," Peterson said. "He didn't get a clear direction."

Fortunately, the bears were distracted by a herd of muskox, Peterson said. But he added that the incident highlights a need for clear rules on whether Nunavummiut can kill bears for safety reasons.

Grizzly bears have also been causing problems around the Kivalliq-region community of Rankin Inlet. Residents in that hamlet have sighted hungry grizzly bears over the past three months.

While people have not been harmed by the animals, some nearby cabin owners have reported finding their cabins broken into and ransacked for food.

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