Hearing On Baffin Bay Polar Bear Hunt Quota

Canada North, Bear Hunting Magazine

The disagreement between biologists and Inuit hunters over the number of polar bears in Nunavut's Baffin Bay region will come together again this week as territorial wildlife regulators consider a new request to reduce the annual hunting quota in the area.

Concerned with overhunting in Baffin Bay, the Nunavut government has asked the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board to cut the quota or impose a moratorium on polar bear hunting before the hunting season begins next month.

The board will discuss the the government's proposal with hunters and biologists at a public hearing that starts Tuesday in Iqaluit.

"Of course, they don't see eye to eye at this moment, but we have always made the recommendation to them that we need to start incorporating traditional knowledge through scientific research," stated board chair, Harry Flaherty.

The Baffin Bay polar bear population is shared between Nunavut and Greenland, with each region controlling their respective domestic hunts.

Greenland's current hunting quota is currently 68 polar bears. Last year, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board recommended that Nunavut's hunting quota in Baffin Bay be kept at 105 polar bears, despite concerns from government biologists who say the combined polar bear hunt in Greenland and Nunavut hunters is not sustainable.

This year, the territorial government has presented the board with these options:

* Reducing the hunting quota to 64 bears.
* Setting a new quota altogether.
* Imposing a complete moratorium on the Baffin Bay polar bear hunt.

But hunters say they want the hunting quota to stay the same, citing too many bears in the area.

"We know in Baffin Bay, even in the Greenland area, there's too many polar bears in this area," said Jayko Allooloo, chair of the Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Association in Pond Inlet.

The wildlife board is paying to bring in a hunter and an elder from each of the three communities that hunt for polar bears in Baffin Bay: Pond Inlet, Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq.

Allooloo said if the hunting quota changes this year, they would want compensation. "We will try to make a proposal with the GN or maybe other parties about compensation. That's very important for us," he said.

Officials with the wildlife board say the public hearing on last year's Baffin Bay polar bear quota cost more than $100,000 CAD (Canadian Dollars).

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