Polar Bear Hunting Quota Set In Nunavut

CBC News, Bear Hunting Magazine

Hunters in Nunavut's Baffin Bay region of Canada will be able to kill up to 105 polar bears this season, after the territory's environment minister agreed to leave the quota unchanged, despite concerns from officials about overhunting.

The outgoing Environment Minister Olayuk Akesuk accepted a recommendation from the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board not to cut the Baffin Bay polar bear quota, also known as the total allowable harvest, for this season.

Territorial government staff had wanted to cut the quota to 64 bears or less. They have argued for the past three years that the harvest there is too high, in part because of hunting in nearby Greenland.

"Combined harvest in the Baffin Bay should not exceed about 90 animals, and presently with the combined harvest from Nunavut and Greenland, it's 176," Drikus Gissing, Nunavut's director of wildlife management stated.

But at a public hearing held in Pond Inlet in April, dozens of hunters from Pond Inlet, Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq told the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board that the polar bear population in Baffin Bay is on the rise, not decreasing.

The hunters also argued that the government's bid to reduce the polar bear hunt was based on outdated information.

Gissing said the minister agreed to keep the quota unchanged this year in Baffin Bay partly because of the hunters' concerns, and partly because of the amount of time it took for the wildlife board to render a decision. The government submitted its proposal to the board in 2007, and a decision came about a year and a half later.

"The board's decision only came back in September of 2008, and the present hunting season already started, so we had to make a decision to allow the present harvest to continue," Gissing said.

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