Calls for increased polar bear kills are ramping up once again following a second fatal attack in the Kivalliq region in two months.
A Naujaat hunter died earlier this week while stranded on White’s Island with two other hunters from the community. The two surviving hunters were rescued after suffering minor injuries.
Reaction to Nunavut News’ online story about the deadly incident included a few calls for a ban on hunting tags and quotas, which echoed the refrain when an Arviat man was killed by a polar bear in early July.
“Just shoot whenever. No more of this tag shit. We are Inuks (and) we should have every right to kill,” reads the most popular comment on the Nunavut News Facebook page.
“It’s a very sensitive topic right now,” acknowledged Stanley Adjuk, president of the Kivalliq Wildlife Board, who noted that he and his board will discuss the issue at a meeting in October.
Adjuk said the board has recommended raising the polar bear quota in the past.
“We’ve been trying to push the quota system higher so we can downsize the population of the bears,” he said.
Increasing interaction between the bears and people, particularly tourists, is part of the problem, according to Adjuk.
“Today’s bears, you can tell they’re not scared to go near the humans anymore because a lot of this tourism crap does this to them,” he said.
The Nunavut Wildlife Management Board raised the total allowable harvest of Western Hudson Bear polar bears in the Kivalliq to 38 as of March, up from 28 a year earlier. That decision came on the heels of a public hearing in Rankin Inlet in January.
In the weeks that followed the fatal attack in Arviat, several polar bears were slaughtered and left for dead.
The Nunavut Wildlife Management Board has another public hearing scheduled for fall in Iqaluit.
The rescue of the Naujaat hunters on Aug. 28 involved the coordinated efforts of community’s search and rescue team, Nunavut Emergency Management office and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, including two Hercules aircraft. Ice prevented the rescue boats from reaching White’s Island so an icebreaker had to be called in as well.
The men had been missing for a week when they were picked up.
Editor’s note: This is the corrected version of the story. The increase in the Kivalliq quota is specific to Western Hudson Bay polar bears.