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]