Global demand for polar bear pelts has collapsed since a peak several years ago and there are consequently many unsold specimens from Nunavut collecting dust in auction warehouses in the south.
Environment Minister Joe Savikataaq said the Government of Nunavut is making efforts to bring those pelts back to the territory. There are more than 300 of them and some are several years old, according to Savikataaq.
“Back in the past, every polar bear pelt sent out for auction would sell, but today, there is no longer any demand for the pelts, so our work is ongoing to try to return the oldest stored pelts… We want to try to return these pelts to Nunavut so that they can be used by Nunavummiut,” the minister said in the legislative assembly Thursday in response to questions from Uqqummiut MLA Pauloosie Keyootak.
In 2011, polar bear pelts were a hot commodity, fetching about $5,000 on average.
The GN’s longstanding practice is to pay hunters 50 per cent of the assessed value of the pelt up front and later make additional payment depending on the sale price at auction.