Nunavut wildlife board considers increase to Foxe Basin polar bear quota
Request for increase comes after hunters in Igloolik and Hall Beach went over their 2012-13 quota
The Nunavut Wildlife Management Board plans to make a recommendation to the Nunavut government in December on a proposed increase to the annual polar bear quota in the Foxe Basin management area.
Its recommendation will be based on hearings and meetings held in Iqaluit, Sept. 10 to Sept. 12 at the request of the Qikiqtaaluk Wildlife Board to increase the quota for the entire Foxe Basin zone.
That would allow the communities of Igloolik and Hall Beach, which both exceeded their 2012-2013 quotas by killing nuisance polar bears, to continue their annual polar bear hunt — and protect the communities.
The yearly polar bear quota for the Foxe Basin, which covers about 1.1 million square kilometres and includes seven communities in Nunavut and four in Quebec, now stands at 106.
But, without an increase in the quota, the communities of Hall Beach and Igloolik face a three-year moratorium on polar bear hunting.
That stop to the hunt came after hunters in the two communities killed more polar bears than their quota allowed for in 2012-2013.
These kills were due to a high number of nuisance bears that had to be killed for the safety of the communities.
Polar bear hunt quotas normally call for the harvest of more males than females — however, in Igloolik and Hall Beach, many of the nuisance polar bears killed “ended up being females,” NWMB executive director Jim Noble said.
“That was double-jeopardy for the [two] communities, because they were harvesting doubly fast. It’s a two-to-one hit on their quota,” Noble told Nunatsiaq News.
Increasing the two communities’ quotas would allow them to keep polar bear populations around them down, Noble added, which “makes it safer for them.”
The territorial government’s last survey of polar bears in the Foxe Basin estimated a population of 2,580 in 2009-2010, according to 2012 report by Nunavut’s environment department. This is up from 2,300, estimated for 1994.
Hunter and trapper associations have noted the promising population estimates, and their representatives used this to argue for increases in quotas at the NWMB hearings.
The NWMB will deliver its decision to Nunavut’s minister of environment in December, which will have 30 days to respond.
The minister “has the right to agree with the board’s decision, or modify or reject it,” said Noble, adding that the government must consider public safety and conservation concerns before agreeing to possible increases.