Why Campaign Against Hunting Polar Bears?

THE World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has condemned Nunavut – the most sparsely populated and largest Canadian Territory – for maintaining its polar bear hunt quota threatening that boycotts may follow the decision.

CBC News ran a story last week that Environment Minister, Olayuk Akesuk, has accepted a recommendation from the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board not to change this season’s polar bear quota of 105 polar bears for the Baffin Bay area.  This is despite concerns from government officials about overhunting. Baffin Bay is an area of water and ice between the northern Baffin Island and Greenland. 

Of course much of the English-speaking world would be surprised to learn that polar bears are still hunted.  

The general media narrative is that polar bears are on the verge of extinction from melting Arctic ice as a consequence of global warming.  So, the WWF may feel smug in condemning the people of Nunavut for continuing to hunt polar bears.

Indeed according to Bjorn Lomborg, in his second book ‘Cool It – the Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming’, we have a choice: we can save 49 polar bears a year by banning hunting or 0.06 bears by subscribing to the Kyoto Protocol. 

In reality not every polar bear  needs to be saved. 

Despite media headlines to the contrary, many of the 19 populations of polar bears in the Arctic are stable or increasing.   There is a place for hunting within a quota system.   The skin and meat is used by the local Inuit with polar bear skin trousers as popular as ever. 

But of course the notion of hunting wild animals offends many in the west and a campaign to ban such activities is the lifeblood of environmental campaigning by groups such as WWF. 

[ Picture from Larry’s Thule Greenland Website and story via Ice Class]

46 Responses to Why Campaign Against Hunting Polar Bears?

  1. Janama November 10, 2008 at 11:09 am #

    Here’s a good info site on Polar Bears by Seaworld..


    “Hunting is the greatest single cause of polar bear mortality.”

  2. DHMO November 10, 2008 at 11:24 am #

    Look here:


    “Anyway, ignoring that, we are told that the polar bear is now at risk and as a result we’re all supposed to kill ourselves.

    Why? Contrary to what you may have been led to believe by Steiff’s cute and squishy cuddly toys, the polar bear is a big savage brute; the colour of nicotine, with a mean ugly pointy face and claws that, if they were to be found in Nottingham on a Saturday night, would be confiscated as offensive weapons.

    If the polar bear dies out it will make not a jot of difference to you or anyone you’ve ever met. The only people who’ll even notice are the Innuits, and its passing will actually improve their lives because they’ll be able to go out fishing and clubbing without running the risk of being eaten to death.”

    J Clarkson

    Besides what ice in Baffin Bay hasn’t it all melted!

  3. Ian Mott November 10, 2008 at 3:07 pm #

    What a pile of bollocks, Janama. Hunting (by humans) cannot possibly be the “greatest single cause of polar bear mortality”. Just look at the numbers.

    20,000 polar bears of which 50% are female, meaning 10,000 females.
    These females breed on average every 3 years for an annual birth rate of 3,300 (assuming no twins).
    Of these only 40% make it beyond 12 months, that is 2000 cubs die each year.
    And as small cubs are not, and have never been on the hunters list, these 2000 deaths are entirely “natural”, with a large portion killed, and eaten, by grumpy males.
    Add this to the deaths from fighting males and natural old age and it is clear that your claim, once again, is complete bollocks.

  4. clive tesar November 10, 2008 at 6:19 pm #

    I think if you actually read the media coverage of this issue, you would find that WWF is not opposed to all hunting, just hunting that is unsustainable.

    Since the Government of Nunavut’s own environment department pointed out that the proposed quota is too high, WWF was simply adding a very reasoned and reasonable voice to that debate.

    If your readers are interested in what’s really happening to polar bears, the WWF website is a credible place to start. Or if you have a pathological distrust of conservation organizations, you could also try the USGS (US government) site.

  5. Ann Novek November 10, 2008 at 6:49 pm #

    The post is indeed quite strange , pointing out that WWF is opposed to hunting. WWF Sweden supports for example the Swedish moose hunt ( about 100 000) animals per year , which makes the hunt one of the largest of landbased mammals inthe world.

    The Swedish King , is also a board member of the WWF and a big hunter. ( A big part of Swedes are hunters btw and also very keen about the environment).

    FYI , the WWF doesn’t oppose the Canadian seal hunt , that’s why Sea Shepherd is opposed to WWF.

    Greenpeace Finland states on its site that they are not against hunting as well as Swedish Ornithologist aren’t opposed to sustainable hunting.

    Neither are Greenpeace against an indigenous hunting.

    As far as I have understood the IUCN (anyway some members) have also criticised the Nunavut quota.

  6. Nichole Hoskin November 10, 2008 at 7:07 pm #

    The population at Baffin Bay is shared between Greenland and Canada. Greenland, unlike the other 4 nations who signed the International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears in 1973, did not use quotas to restrict hunting until 2006. Greenland is also home to the 3 populations that the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group lists as declining because of over-hunting.

    Has it occurred to the WWF that maybe they should be after the Danish Government (Greenland is Danish territory) for the declines in the population at Baffin Bay and that Canada may not be responsible?

  7. Nichole Hoskin November 10, 2008 at 7:15 pm #

    I agree with Clive on his point that the issue is unsustainable hunting, not hunting generally. However, as my previous comment suggests, we cannot assume that the over-hunting is occurring in Canada, without also considering the situation in Greenland. The WWF may have a reasonable point, but are they targeting an innocent party?

  8. Ann Novek November 10, 2008 at 7:59 pm #


    Nichole says that the WWF should be after the Danish Gov’t re the overhunt.

    Just from memory. I’m quite sure local communities decide quotas of wildlife ( whales, polar bears etc). Local communities that consist of Inuits and Danes. What you suggest is Inuits vs Inuits.

  9. Nichole Hoskin November 10, 2008 at 8:01 pm #

    Hi Janama and Ian Mott,

    I am not so sure hunting is the biggest cause of PB mortality. Didn’t Al Gore claim that significant numbers are now drowning because of climate change, in ‘An Inconvenient Truth’? Aren’t polar bears also apparently showing signs of stress by eating each other?

    Plus hunting of polar bears tends to remove older males and females (they are the biggest), while females with young cannot be hunted under the International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears (1973).

  10. Nichole Hoskin November 10, 2008 at 8:04 pm #

    Hi Ann,

    With due respect Ann, you missed the point.

    Greenland didn’t have quotas until 2006. They also have the only populations with declines caused by over-hunting.

    It seems strange to focus on Canada when Greenland/Denmark are equally responsible for the management of this population

  11. Ann Novek November 10, 2008 at 8:17 pm #

    Greenland quotas are set by average previous PB hunt numbers.

  12. Ann Novek November 10, 2008 at 8:22 pm #

    To Motty :


    Male PB eating cub. Note the paper states the polar bear is starved and thin. It is as well noteworthy there has happened many encounters with human vs polar bears this year in Svalbard , and the PB have been very thin.

  13. Ann Novek November 10, 2008 at 8:32 pm #

    In no hunt it is good to hunt the alpha males and females( they with the good genes that have proved that they have survived).

  14. Ann Novek November 10, 2008 at 9:11 pm #

    It is as well noteworthy that it’s banned now to export polar bear pelts as trophies , according to authorities in Greenland, because they don’t know how global warming is having an impact on the PB population.


    The hunters claim there are many polar bears around the communities , and many human vs polar bear encounters , but the scientists say there are many encounters because to PB habitat is shrinking( melting sea ice).

  15. Jennifer November 10, 2008 at 9:57 pm #

    Clive, Ann,
    Can you show me where WWF have stated they support the sustainable harvest of polar bears i.e that they do support hunting of polar bears under a quota system.

  16. Ann Novek November 10, 2008 at 11:02 pm #

    WWF Denmark/Greenland
    WWF Denmark is focusing on the effect of polar bear hunting in Greenland. According to a report by WWF Denmark in released in 2005, polar bear hunting in Greenland is unregulated. As a result, the population on the western coast is believed to be endangered. However, population data remains scarce, so recommended harvest levels are based on insufficient data and the real effect of hunting is unknown. We respect the rights of indigenous peoples to harvest marine mammals in a sustainable and responsible manner. Most hunting is done in a sustainable manner but overhunting is an additional stress on some polar bear populations.

  17. Ann Novek November 10, 2008 at 11:04 pm #

    Hi Jennifer and Nichole,

    Here’s a link that can give you some answers.


  18. Ann Novek November 10, 2008 at 11:05 pm #


    OOps , forgot to post the link!

  19. Jennifer November 10, 2008 at 11:52 pm #

    Ann, I can’t see where it says that WWF supports any hunting of polar bears?

  20. Ann Novek November 11, 2008 at 12:03 am #

    If you have taken part of the IUCN’s and other organisations statements ( including Dr. Taylor’s) , its widely recogniced that the IUCN ( and for whales the IWC) are recognising the indigenous peoples right to harvest polar bears ( and whales) . As you should know by now , the IUCN consists of scientists from many organisations( and WWF) , including hunting organisations, like the Swedish Society for hunters.

    I see it as well completely futile to participate in your forum Jennifer. Twice I have posted to Nichole , replies from the Norwegians re polar bears . I still see that you haven’t changed your misinformation in Wiki.


  21. Janama November 11, 2008 at 5:14 am #

    Ian Mott – I was quoting the Seaworld article regards the hunting. It was their conclusion.

  22. Nichole Hoskin November 11, 2008 at 8:22 am #

    Hi Ann,

    While Greenland may now have quotas set with rigorous methodology, Canada has been using quotas since the 1960s. The United States and Norway introduced quotas in the 1970s. Greenland’s failure to impose quotas in the 1970s resulted in the overhunting of polar bears, which caused declines in 3 populations. It is going to take time for the Baffin Bay population to recover from the previous overhunting.

    However, since Canada has been managing hunting of polar bears effectively, while Greenland has done nothing until 2 years ago. It is strange for the WWF to campaign against Canada and not Greenland when the experts advising the Canadian Government are arguing that the overhunting has occurred in Greenland.

  23. Nichole Hoskin November 11, 2008 at 8:34 am #


    I have no problem with traditional hunting rights, as recognised and facilitated by the International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears 1973 and many other international agreements on animals.

    I have a problem when that hunting is unsustainable. The experience from the 1960s to the present has been that quotas are the best way to ensure that hunting of PBs is sustainable. Most states with polar bears used quotas and also don’t have declines in PB populations caused by overhunting. The PBSG data shows that overhunting has occurred in Greenland, probably because of the failure to impose quotas.

    Since the overhunting has occurred in Greenland and not Canada, blaming Canada for the overhunting and for maintaining their quotas is putting the focus onto a nation that has done the right thing and ensured hunting is sustainable.
    Greenland is in a different position.

  24. Alex Buchan November 11, 2008 at 9:27 am #

    Interesting but not highly accurate comments above. As a proud owner of polar bear pants I should point out:

    1. Natural mortality is likely higher than human caused – cubs find it hard to learn and survive.

    2. Inuit traditionally did hunt cubs, but this is banned now for some reason. Most Inuit around here would probably not have the skill now to go into a den to retrieve a cub safely. This was mostly for elderly that need softer meat. Hunting for meat is different than hunting for a trophy. 2-4 year olds taste better than the big adults that sports hunters prefer.

    3. I would be most suprised and shocked if Polar Bears were in danger of extinction. Possibly extirpation in southern populations where ice coverage is most affected would be the most I could see happening. Polar Bears will move to areas opened up from melting multi year ice to follow their food source so shifts are much more likely.

    4. Minister holding up the Management Board recommendation is probably due primarily to international posturing to get Greenland to fess up and start regulating their harvest better. Both sides will blink soon.

    5. IF all the additional bears between the difference in the quota and recommended quota were harvested this year in Nunavut, this would mean possibly another year of recovery for that population.

    6. Polar Bear Management is highly complex and politically charged here in Nunavut. For decades the government has held to a maxmimum sustained yield harvest model in order to promote sports hunting. This model requires periodic intensive and expensive mark recapture studies that Inuit find highly intrusive. It has skewed the harvest to adult male bears and there is evidence this is impacting reproductive success.

    7. Nunavut is 85% Inuit hunting society and will hold to these values for many decades to come. It is a real clash of values and viewpoints when people from an agrarian society judge what goes on here. Polar Bear hunts and living with polar bears is near and dear to all. Often what southerners surmise what is happening up here is totally wrong as a result.

    I personally think that its time to relax the quotas and focus on subsistence hunts since the Americans cant afford the hunts and cant import the hides anyway. I want my boys to hunt bears like I did and not have to wait for “extra” tags after the southern booking agents have put in their requests. Its time to focus on traditional values as mining and oil and gas will prove to have much more economic potential here in the near term than tourism.

    Regards, Alex

  25. Ann Novek November 11, 2008 at 1:54 pm #

    I’m disturbed by the inconsistency at Jennifer Marohasy’s blog. One post states that the North Atlantic countries ( including Greenland) want to step out of the IWC ( due to arguments re the humpback quota) . In this case the blog fully supports Greenland.

    Now Nichole has posted some amateurish comments again , pointing (rightly) out that the Greenland polar bear quota might be unsustainable. And criticising Greenland ( despite that KNAPK is the same body that wanted to leave the IWC and also supports PB hunts).

    There is hardly much need to hunt polar bears in Greenland ( or Nunavut?) for meat. As it is now narwhals and thousands of seals have been throwned away/discarded and not been utilised for meat :


    I do however recognise the Inuits traditional rights to harvest marine mammals. I’m disturbed by the waste of seals ( see the same Greenlandic paper) and the waste of narwhals as well. I saw that a Greenlander believed that a sustainable harvest of PB in Greenland was about 10 animals.

  26. Ann Novek November 11, 2008 at 2:16 pm #

    “Discarded seals show wasteful hunting practices not limited to whales. Hunters appear to disregard national sustainability guidelines , say wildlife experts , after dead seals are found in trash bins.”- Sermitsiaq


  27. Ann Novek November 11, 2008 at 2:29 pm #

    The Greenlandic paper also writes that the wasteful hunting of wildlife is a shame for Greenland and scaring away tourists. ” We have forgotten our traditional sustainable hunting practises ” , continues the paper ” and ” now everything is about money and greed”.

  28. IceClass November 12, 2008 at 3:46 am #

    Follow the money:


    Coca-Cola Canada’s latest promotion and green-wash donates monies to WWF to save Polar Bears.

    Funnily enough, we have a decrepit Coca-Cola bottling plant here that’s been running on a temporary license using scarce water supplies at a subsidized rate and causing garbage problems by using plastic bottles instead of recyclable aluminum cans.

    Nice to know they’re so “green” though.

  29. Nichole Hoskin November 12, 2008 at 8:00 am #


    My comments about Greenland and Canada are based on an understanding of the campaigns in the 1960s that led to the development of the Oslo Agreement (the International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears) and the Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) in the IUCN. The PBSG working meetings got frequent reports on the progress in restricting hunting and research, since they were concerned about conserving polar bears by getting rid of unsustainable harvesting.

    I have been researching the history intensively to understand how we got the position we are in today. Thus, I haven’t amended the Wiki, with its strong emphasis on historical evidence/observational data, to reflect the claims on the Norwegian links you provided, which are largely climate change theory.

    I can explain why the hunting of mothers and young is banned. That started with the International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears (1973), which developed because the USSR, US, Canada, Norway and Greenland/Denmark were concerned that hunting of polar bears had become unsustainable. This agreement led these States to restricted hunting of polar bears. I have provided details of the types of measure each State introduced above.

    The idea was to ban hunting of mothers and young was to preserve breeding capacity, while maintaining Inuit traditional/subsistence hunting

    I agree with your views on the waste of narwhales and seals. Particularly, the point that some ‘traditional hunting’ has abandoned the ideas of subsistence and utilisation of the entire resource that used to be inherent to their hunting practices. I think the way to overcome this problem is through quotas.

  30. Travis November 12, 2008 at 8:44 am #

    >I have been researching the history intensively to understand how we got the position we are in today. Thus, I haven’t amended the Wiki, with its strong emphasis on historical evidence/observational data, to reflect the claims on the Norwegian links you provided, which are largely climate change theory.

    LOL!!! Research, hmmm…Ah, the climate may change but nothing changes here!!! Agendas, agendas, agendas…LOL!

  31. Ann Novek November 12, 2008 at 9:25 am #


    This is what I meant.

    ” While the USFWS believes that polar bear numbers have increased with the introduction of international controls on harvesting limits, no published papers or reports support this view. ” – Nichole Hoskins in Wiki.

    I have provided you with links and references from peer reviewed journals, that the Norwegian Polar Institute sent me.

    I have provided you with a translation from Dr. Aars , from the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group, about youe above incorrect statement.

    ( There are many ways to estimate an increase in population growth , than just relying on counting animals ( polar bears) , and he gave some examples on this ….( Check previous polar bear threads).

    And I do agree with Travis , it seems like anyone can call oneself a ” reseacher” after a few days Googling, indeed an inflation in the word researcher!

  32. Ann Novek November 12, 2008 at 9:37 am #

    Some important years for Norwegian polar bears :


    You can see that the Norwegians banned “already” in 1965 the capture of living female polar bears with cubs.

  33. Ann Novek November 12, 2008 at 9:47 am #

    Some good work done by the WWF:


  34. Ann Novek November 12, 2008 at 9:51 am #

    More very good work by WWF :


  35. Ann Novek November 12, 2008 at 9:59 am #

    It’s MUCH more enviro -friendly to recycle plastic bottles than recycle aluminium cans! Please do your homework correctly, you have already been proven wrong on many points.

  36. Nichole Hoskin November 15, 2008 at 10:55 am #


    Interesting how you always interpret (real or imagined) agendas.

    I never said that the restrictions on hunting didn’t increase numbers—my point was that there is no reliable observational data to prove this point, as the title stated.

    My earlier point still stands, unless you have evidence that prior to the development of satellite tracking of radio collars, in about 1986, there is reliable observational data that demonstrates that PB numbers increased after the implementation of the International Agreement for the Conservation of PB’s.

    I realise that it is possible to infer that polar bears numbers increased because the Agreement led to decreased hunting and probably enabled numbers to rebound. However, this is an inference, not a fact.

    Plus, Russia banned hunting of polar bears, which increased the amount of illegal hunting, which means that hunting went underground and it is impossible to know whether hunting of polar bears increased or decreased.

  37. Nichole Hoskin November 15, 2008 at 11:03 am #


    What you think are inconsistencies arises because there are multiple contributors and Jennifer has done well at allowing diverse opinions on this blog, rather than rejecting opinions she doesn’t agree with.

    I didn’t write the posts on whaling. Plus, even if I did, that doesn’t mean that I will ignore the role of Greenland in the management of Baffin Bay polar bears. I won’t blindly support a group on all issues just because I agree with their position on one issue.

  38. Nichole Hoskin November 15, 2008 at 11:11 am #


    From what I read of the Dr Aars paper, he didn’t show that there was reliable observational data of historic population numbers.

    In the context of the USFWS claims and their expert reports, there is nothing there that supports the claims that polar bears numbers increased after the introduction of the Oslo Agreement. If there were scientific papers that demonstrated this, wouldn’t Reghr, Amstrup, Stirling (also members of the Polar Bear Specialist Group) and the many other polar bear experts advising the USFWS have pointed to this evidence?

    What the expert reports say, when looking for evidence of population trends for specific populations in Alaska and Canada, is that historical population estimates are unreliable.

  39. Ann Novek November 15, 2008 at 4:03 pm #

    I see ít futile to discuss the USFWS issue with you. I have been sent references and peer reviewed articles from Dr. Aars , from all polar bear expert giants , like Dr. Deroucher, Dr. Amstrup , Dr Wiig and from the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group , that counterdicts your statement above.

    You can e-mail me , so can I provide you again with the articles from the real experts.

    Re WWF and hunting in general , one more ststement from NY Times :

    ” Resuming the hunt has the support of Russia’s most prominent bear researchers and, more grudgingly, of groups like the World Wildlife Fund. ”We support effective management,” said Viktor Nikiforov, the fund’s director of regional programs in Russia. ”If this hunting is a small part of this, then we can accept it.”

    Stanislav E. Belikov of the All-Russian Research Institute for Nature Protection in Moscow, who has written many of the rules for the resumption of the hunt, said the threat of climate change and poaching made urgent measures necessary.

    ”In 50 years,” he said at the town hall meeting, ”we may only be able to tell our grandchildren that these creatures existed here.”


  40. Nichole Hoskin November 16, 2008 at 4:46 pm #


    You might remember that I quoted Derocher saying that there are no reliable historical estimates of polar bear numbers.

    From memory, you also emailed Dr Aars asking him about historic estimates of population numbers and he agreed that they were unreliable.

    I haven’t seen anything by Derocher or other polar bear experts that says that historic estimates are reliable.

    My comments about Russia banning hunting after the Oslo agreement are based on a peer-reviewed academic paper on bears by Garshelis, who is also a polar bear expert. With due respect, I’ll take his opinion over yours.

    Garshelis, David L., Misconceptions, Ironies and Uncertainties Regarding Trends in Bear Populations, Ursus 2002 13, pp 321-334.

  41. Ann Novek November 16, 2008 at 5:10 pm #

    Dear Nichole ,
    I have zero interest to be involved in any mudwrestling , just want to point out another error in your statements.

    Soviet banned already polar bear hunting in 1956! ( Not 1973 )

  42. Nichole Hoskin November 16, 2008 at 5:22 pm #


    I appreciate the offer to refer me to papers ‘from real experts’, although I don’t know what criteria you use in defining who is a real expert.

    From what I have read, there is disagreement amongst experts on future predictions of polar bear population trends. A friend sent me a paper from the Journal of Applied Ecology (2008) by O’Neil et al, which conducted a survey of 10 polar bear experts to get their views on what would happen to future polar bear habitat range and population trends under various models of climate change.

    O’Neil et al found that,
    “Most experts project a substantial decline in polar bear range and population size across the Arctic and in population size across each region. Expert best estimates for total Arctic polar bear population size lie from no change to a 70% decrease by 2050 relative to today; with half the experts projecting at least a 30% decrease.”

    Amstrup was recently quoted, in the media, as saying that,
    ‘If we acted now, it could take 100 years to reduce the pattern of extinction facing polar bears, Dr Amstrup said.’


    The IUCN Red list assessors were Schliebe, S., Wiig, Ø., Derocher, A. & Lunn, N., with Derocher, A.E. & Born, E.W. (Polar Bear Red List Authority) as evaluators. Their conclusions were that, by 2050, polar bear numbers will decline by more than 30%.


    The experts quoted above all agree that climate change will have negative consequences on polar bears but they disagree on estimates of how many polar bears will be lost.

  43. Travis November 17, 2008 at 6:21 am #

    >My comments about Russia banning hunting after the Oslo agreement are based on a peer-reviewed academic paper on bears by Garshelis, who is also a polar bear expert. With due respect, I’ll take his opinion over yours.

    No, no agendas Nichole! LOL!!! You take anyone’s opinion that suits your values (real or imagined). If it is an expert who just so happens to agree with those values, they are taken on board. If they are an expert who does not, they are discarded and questioned (as you did Derocher, btw, have you heard from him yet?). If they are a non-PB expert like Ann, who still knows her stuff but is not in agreement with you, they are questioned. If they are a non-PB like Mott, who knows diddly-squat but agrees with you, they are taken on board no questions asked. At least you are consistent and predictable in this.

    >I appreciate the offer to refer me to papers ‘from real experts’, although I don’t know what criteria you use in defining who is a real expert.

    You are too funny!! How are those PBs on the Gold Coast doing? Ann your ‘experts’ are just not good enough for Nichole!! LOL! Careful of that high horse, it can be a long way down.

    >The experts quoted above all agree that climate change will have negative consequences on polar bears but they disagree on estimates of how many polar bears will be lost.

    So these ‘experts’ (questionable isn’t it?!) ALL AGREE that CC will have NEGATIVE consequences on PBs. That is one point you perhaps should be absorbing and taking on board. For a start, it would appear these people who actually go out and study these animals rather than google about them all seem to BELIEVE in CC.

    Why is it necessary for these real life researchers to have agreement on numbers? Most population biologists will not commit to firm numbers, no matter how much lawyers like yourself may want the black and white and their idea of ‘evidence’. AGAIN, you have shown a gross misunderstanding of the natural sciences and how this research is carried out. You are highlighting that they disagree on numbers because it suits your cause. In reality, it makes perfect sense. If a group of researchers from different regions all came up with a magical figure they all agreed on, I for one would be worried.

  44. Nichole Hoskin November 17, 2008 at 9:37 am #


    Actually, in the context of the comments above, I will preference peer-reviewed academic articles over comments on a blog, for obvious reasons.

    Your constant comments about agendas etc reveal more about you than they do about me.

    My comments about disagreement amongst experts were in response to Ann’s offer to provide me with papers from ‘real experts’. My point was that I don’t think you can just read papers from selected experts to understand the complexities of the current debate since experts don’t agree.

    I don’t expect all experts to agree, academics rarely agree and the same applies to lawyers. In fact, the High Court has repeatedly said, in various contexts, that ‘differing minds will come to differing conclusions’. Similarly, I don’t expect yourself and Ann to agree with my opinions on polar bears.

    When there is disagreement, I find it useful to look for the similarities and differences in the various opinions to understand why these differences exist.

  45. Nichole Hoskin November 21, 2008 at 9:59 am #

    While the USSR may have banned hunting of polar bears in 1956, they advocated other nations follow their lead at the 1970 Polar Bear Specialist Group Meeting, when the nations with polar bears were negotiating a convention for the conservation of polar bears. They promoted the banning of hunting as the best way to conserve polar bears.

    The notes for the Meeting state that there were two proposals in the discussion of a International Convention for the Conservation of polar bears:

    “The first dealt with a Soviet proposal to the IUCN. The proposal requested IUCN appeal to the Governments of the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark to ban all hunting of polar bears for a five year period. After considerable discussion, agreement was reached on a modified wording for the proposal. The revised draft appealed to governments to examine their management programmes immediately with a view to drastically curtailing the harvesting of polar bears beginning the next hunting season and extending for the next five years.”

    Thus, despite the USSR ban occurring before the Oslo Agreement was developed, the negotiations of this agreement show that they saw banning hunting as the best way to conserve polar bears.

  46. Alex Buchan December 6, 2008 at 5:03 am #

    It really is quite impossible to catagorically state one way or another that limiting hunting of polar bears generally will have a species level effect. There are too many factors involved. In the Canadian expereince, there is some evidence that hunting regulation actually caused more hunting.

    In my traditional hunting area of McClintock Channel, in the 70’s there were no restrictions. The things that affected the annual hunt and the actual population were

    1. Ice conditions – if it was rough ice in a year, less bears were taken as they were not as accessible to hunters.

    2. Price of hides sold through the Hudsons Bay Company. If the price was higher, hunters had more to gain in hunting and they would hunt more.

    3. The number of traditonal bear hunters. Not all Inuit like or want to hunt bears. There are certain hunters that go out year after year, and others that dont bother.

    4. Age/Sex composition of the harvest. Traditionally, many ages and both sexes of bears were taken and that had a certain effect on the population. When the harvest shifts to mature males almost exlcusively, that has another effect.

    Then the government did a (flawed) mark recapture study and (flawed) population delineation study. They set the resulting quota too high. Due the expensive nature of the studies and the timing required between mark recapture studies in order to see a statistical difference, the population was not counted again until 20 years later. In that time the population was severely overharvested. Why?

    Well, when the government in a high position of authority over Inuit told them this is the amount you must take, then the quota became an OBJECTIVE of the hunters. Hunters were afraid that if less than the quota was taken, then tags would be removed by the government, as they were told that the Intl community wanted a ban.

    If you look at historic Hudsons Bay Company polar bear sales receipts, I think there is good cause to say that if our harvest in out area was left unregulated, our population would be in much better shape.

    When we think about regulating harvest, there should be room to think of non quota limitations. The southern audience takes great comfort in numbers where actually for polar bears the numbers are really just very inference sensitive statistics. I would be in favour of regulating things like hunting effort as a better, more sustainable means of regulating hunting. Its more responsive to environmental conditions and what the hunters are actually seeing. And guess what, that is exactly what our local Hunters and Trappers Organizations do with our hunting rules.

    So lets look at the natural regulators of hunting

    1. Ice conditions – it is getting less safe for hunters to hunt due to thin ice here. Only more expereinced hunters will continue to hunt and possibly some hunters will die trying.

    2. Polar Bear hunts are in much less demand now that the US has banned hides. The US was a huge market for sports hunts. EU market is negligible. It really matters not what the europeans do now since the demand for hides is now so depressed.

    3. Many more Inuit are living non traditionally, and harvesting in Nunavut is generally declining with greater availabililty of store bought food. A core of hunters will continue to hunt but not everyone is reaching for their rifle in Baffin Bay now that tags are available again that is for sure.

    4. If Inuit select a more natural cross section of animals, including cohorts with much greater natural mortality now that there is hardly any sports hunting, then this will help productivity as the male bears will grow bigger again and succeed reproductively much better.

    WWF can go take a hike becuase the hunt in Nunavut is already adjusting to what the bears are facing.

    Point is, the bears will do what they want to do. It is people management that counts and part of people management for our Minister of the Environment is making sure he does not break faith with our co-management board. You would see more illegal hunting and general disrespect of the rules when the Minister goes against the Nunavut Widllife Management Board. I applaud him for relying on the NWMB. His biologists have certianly been wrong before.

    Not once has a true conservation issue in the north not been heralded by hunters noticing it. In our case, our hunters said McClintock quota was too high and the government ignored this as they had other studies to do with their limited budgets. This is the context that many of the posters are missing.

    Alex Buchan
    Cambridge Bay Nunavut

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