Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut August 07, 2018 - 8:15 am

Nunavut wildlife officials investigate illegal polar bear killings

Four shot polar bears discovered near Arviat, unharvested and unreported

Wildlife officers capture a polar bear in this luring station outside of Arviat in 2014. The GN is now investigating the recent illegal killing of four bears around the Kivalliq community, just weeks after a resident was mauled to death by the large Arctic predator. (FILE PHOTO)
Wildlife officers capture a polar bear in this luring station outside of Arviat in 2014. The GN is now investigating the recent illegal killing of four bears around the Kivalliq community, just weeks after a resident was mauled to death by the large Arctic predator. (FILE PHOTO)

Nunavut wildlife officials say they’re investigating the illegal killing of four polar bears that were discovered around the community of Arviat in recent weeks.

While there have been two defence kills of polar bears around the Kivalliq communities through the month of July, conservation officers say another four animals were shot and left unharvested and unreported around the community of about 2,700.

The Government of Nunavut’s Department of Environment has launched an investigation into the deaths and said last week that officials are working with Arviat’s hunters and trappers organization to attempt to prevent any further illegal killings.

The deaths come just weeks after an Arviat resident was mauled to death by a polar bear, while he was out collecting eggs with his children on nearby Sentry Island.

Relatives say Aaron Gibbons put himself between the bear and his children to protect them. While he carried a .22 rifle with him on the outing, Gibbons was unarmed at the time the polar bear attacked and killed him.

Someone else on the island arrived and killed the polar bear afterwards.

The GN’s Environment Department sent the polar bear’s body for an autopsy, though the department has yet to release its findings. Some witnesses reported that the polar bear who attacked Gibbons was a young, skinny male.

Since the attack, residents said another polar bear approached a group of people staying in cabins outside the community and continued to threaten the group. That polar bear was shot and reported as a defence kill.

But Gibbons’ death—the first polar bear-related death in the region since 1999—has rocked the Hudson Bay community, which has seen a gradual increase in the number of polar bears coming into the community, leading to dangerous encounters with residents.

Arviat has used the remainder of its polar bear tags, or quota, for the year. While the community has pushed for more tags, some residents have expressed frustration with the territory’s restrictive wildlife management system.

Nunavut’s new premier, Joe Savikataaq, himself an Arviat resident, lobbied hard as environment minister to increase the total allowable harvest of western Hudson Bay polar bears as a way to better manage the population and threats to communities along the coast.

Earlier this year, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board decided to increase the total allowable harvest by four, bringing Kivalliq’s quota to 38 polar bears per year.

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(19) Comments:

#1. Posted by One time in Arviat on August 07, 2018

well….lets take a look at Arviat.  Lots of garbage everywhere, dead seals and whale parts lining the beach, caribou parts everywhere.  The bears are being lured into town!  Maybe clean up your community and the bears will not be so inclined to visit.

#2. Posted by boris pasternak on August 07, 2018

you poor bugger, we are all clean up and even have better play ground than Iqaluit. you much have spent time with your few seedy friends here, bootlegger, pushers and the like. next time you’re here look at the community not the illicit side as you did last time. “garbage everywhere my fat eskimo ass”...i like to take you out of town for few miles, see how fast you can run to the community!!!! yes, run for your life literally.

#3. Posted by Northern Inuit on August 07, 2018

it was tragic what happened to Mr Gibbons and his Family, for that you have our deepest condolences. 

however, the mob mentality after this happened and the talk of how bears would be dealt with, I was worried something such as this would happen.

we know your Community is still mourning and angry at what happened, but our wildlife do not deserve to be slaughtered and left to rot.  please, reconsider what you are doing, even if you think you are doing the right thing, it should not be happening.

#4. Posted by uvaga on August 07, 2018

let me know when he starts running smile or take pictures of him running, hope he won’t ask for help when the bear is attacking him. Good for Arviat, save me some meat, 4 is not enough, feed arviat and after feast square dance smile.

#5. Posted by This Guy on August 07, 2018

Following the recent tragedy I remember a fellow on Facebook bragging how he was going to shoot all the polar bears, like it was his moral mission in life. I thought he sounded a bit crazed and hysterical. I should report his name to wildlife (initials BA).

#6. Posted by Frank on August 07, 2018

Holy…# 2 got some problems. Real life, real time issues. Stay away from Boris whoever this person is.

#7. Posted by laughing on August 07, 2018

lol #2

#8. Posted by Nevada Bob on August 07, 2018

A death in the family is a terrible thing, but destroying one of your only natural resources is also terrible.
I assume Nunavut has poaching and wanton waste laws, so enforce them.  Its not the wild west any more folks.
On the other side of the coin, if this is the new precedent in wildlife conservation, I know lots of folks that would love to come up and harvest a white bear.

#9. Posted by Laws on August 07, 2018

This is just awful. This is illegal and the person or persons responsible should be found and punished for these crimes.  Bad enough to shoot an innocent bear, but the waste is just terrible and against everything a good hunter would do!  Shame.  #5 yes, please advise the HTO of the person who posted.  These actions must be stopped.

#10. Posted by real_life_JurrasicPark on August 07, 2018

Come on people they have something like Feed the Polar Bear in Churchill they stand right next to people and now know to look for food there its so stupid how they think of money and not Nature you do not treat nature like that it is not a toy not something you can tease what idiots money over life oh thats right they park their elders in buildings that strip them of life

#11. Posted by Guess enough was enough on August 08, 2018

I guess enough was enough - years of communities asking and begging the Government for the polar bear population to be decreased - that lives were being threatened, hallowe’en moving indoors, watching for polar bears as you send your kids to school, etc., etc. and the Government trying to keep it at the unsustainably high number and then the worst happened and the restraint that communities showed in trying to follow unjust laws dissipates - Government won’t protect you… their first priority is the animals

#12. Posted by understandable on August 08, 2018

this is not unlike the killing of stingrays after steven irwin was killed.  no difference.  arviat is healing after a tragedy.  it happens in other parts of the world.  imagine the senseless deaths of hundreds of thousands of sharks because of the movie Jaws.

#13. Posted by hiding on August 08, 2018

#12.  Although you may think this is understandable, I point out that the person/persons who did this illegal act did so in hiding.  They did not harvest the bear, or share the meat with the community, they did not report a defense kill or take the hide.  Why not?  Because even though in their own minds they felt the right to do this shameful, wasteful act, they knew it was illegal and against every proper hunting guideline passed down through the generations.  They are hiding now, if they feel so justified in what they did, why not come forward?

#14. Posted by Let it go on August 08, 2018

Just let it go its like revenge killing because of a tragedy and it wont happen again who ever killed them he wont kill again just let it go because you don’t want to create any controversy with any animals.
Who killed the bears will come to his senses and move on with this tragedy just let it go please.

#15. Posted by JimmyJames on August 08, 2018

Wow! Curious as to how many people here that comment actually live in Arviat?? The Dept of Environment and it’s CO’s have THE MOST advanced/involved wildlife deterrent program in Nunavut. They HAVE proven that they care for the people of this community.
#1, as for seal/whale carcasses lining the beach w/t garbage everywhere, you’re probably using your own community as an example for all Nunavut communities.
As for Mr Gibbons, his death was tragic especially for his surviving family members, he chose to go to an island north of Arviat that is known to have polar bears on it, & where locals butcher their whales and leave the remains. He also chose to visit that island w/o a proper firearm. Sadly, his poor choices & not polar bears numbers led to his untimely death.

#16. Posted by understandable on August 08, 2018

at #13.  you’ve missed my point, it does not matter what animal did what, it does not matter if they are endangered, which they are not.  it does not matter if it was harvested or not. all the stingrays killed in the name of steve irwin had thier tales cut off.  you are bringing up issues after the fact.  and you say nothing about sharks?  yeah…ok…it is understandable, just not at your level.

#17. Posted by Willie on August 08, 2018

From this day forward i pass this grieving i have.i lost my younger brother .you who love animals over humans that your love ones ( grandkids.wife.father.grandparents.uncles.aunts so on)i pass this event to you who love animals . message me the negative vibes after 1 year from this date.

#18. Posted by Two Wrongs on August 09, 2018

#16 did your mother never tell you that two wrongs do not make a right?  The senseless of killing of four innocent bears left to rot is not, or ever will be understandable.  Your argument claiming it is ok because others have done it before is simply ignorant and quite frankly, ridiculous.

#19. Posted by understandable on August 10, 2018

@ 18 she’s taught me that, but i’m not the one in the story.

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