Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut September 06, 2018 - 1:30 pm

Polar bears that killed Nunavut hunter were healthy, GN says

Condition of bears offers little insight into the Kivalliq's second fatal bear attack this year

A polar bear is spotted swimming off White Island in the Kivalliq region. The Government of Nunavut says all the bears involved in a deadly attack last month  were considered healthy and in good condition. (PHOTO BY J. MILORTOK)
A polar bear is spotted swimming off White Island in the Kivalliq region. The Government of Nunavut says all the bears involved in a deadly attack last month were considered healthy and in good condition. (PHOTO BY J. MILORTOK)

The polar bears involved in the fatal attack on a Nunavut hunter in August were in healthy condition, say wildlife officials.

A group of three men left Naujaat by boat on Aug. 21 to hunt caribou and narwhal southeast of the community.

Later that week, while on the land along Lyon Inlet, the group was approached by a mother polar bear and her cub.

The polar bears mauled and killed Darryl Kaunak and injured two others before they were shot. Two other polar bears reportedly approached the group and were also killed.

With no GPS and poor ice conditions, the two survivors weren’t rescued until several days later, on Aug. 28.

Government of Nunavut wildlife officers have since visited the scene to investigate the attack.

They’ve analyzed the carcasses of three of the animals; a fourth polar bear was “probably killed,” but officers found no carcass at the site, the Department of Environment said in an email.

Of the destroyed polar bears, one was an adult female, another was a sub-adult female and the third was a yearling male.

All three were found to be in good condition, the department said.

All the polar bears shot at the site were considered justified kills in defence of life and property.

Naujaat’s polar bear quota for 2017-18 was 14 bears from the Foxe Basin subpopulation and five from the Gulf of Boothia subpopulation. That’s the same number of polar bears that were harvested for that period, although one was considered a defence kill.

The community’s recommended harvest for 2018-19 remains the same.

The condition of the polar bears in Lyon Inlet offers little insight into the attack that killed a man—the second fatal polar bear attack in the Kivalliq this year.

In July, Aaron Gibbons was visiting Sentry Island near Arviat when he was mauled to death by a polar bear.

The polar bear was destroyed immediately afterwards. A necropsy of the animal found it was an adult male that was skinny, but considered to be in “fair condition,” the Department of Environment said.

Wildlife officers in Arviat have since been investigating the illegal killings of four other polar bears near the community since the July attack.

No charges or fines have been laid in relation to those deaths, the department said on Sept. 5, though the investigation in ongoing.

One additional polar bear killed near Arviat this past summer was considered a defence kill.

Wildlife officers are also investigating another reported defence kill of a polar bear, which was destroyed after it was spotted disturbing cabins and fishnets outside Rankin Inlet last month.

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(7) Comments:

#1. Posted by Nunavutmiuta on September 06, 2018

It is us humans who is causing all the trouble. Polar Bears are just like humans and just like humans have personally, so when a bear goes to a town or a camp it is scared off with bear banger or gun shots and just like humans a person aggravate the enough it develops a anger towards human and attacks when given a chance. To all those who play around with polar bears it is YOU who has the blood of the lost hunters in your hand.

#2. Posted by Black and tired on September 07, 2018

I support indigenous traditional practices. Sustainable Hunting bears and animals for food is fine with me.  It is less cruel to animals than current modern farming practices.

However, Blaming the bears for death on the land does not make any sense to me. The lions, the tigers, the bears, the boa constrictors, when you are in their territory they are king.  That is the risk that I accept to venture on to their territory. Wild beasts that come to close to community should be humanely dealt with, as human as been incroaching on animal territory for millennium . Indigenous peoples over the years have been able to find that balance.

#3. Posted by Inuk on September 07, 2018

First off this is part of our land, part of where we live, the difference we are seeing today is that there are much more bears than what it used to be. With so much outside pressure we cannot Hunt more bears or kill dangerous bears that keep coming and have no fear of people.

From the 70s 80s 90s we did not see as many bears around, today there are so much more and yet we have to listen to outside people who do not live here who come in for a few weeks at a time and decide for us what is best. Other problem is tourist companies interacting with bears too much, these bears learn not to fear people and learn people can have a food source and not be afraid.. This is very dangerous.
I think this whole management process has to be revisited and changed with Inuit voice being much stronger then outside pressures. I believe we are working towards this now.

#4. Posted by Ugh on September 07, 2018

Please just save your ignorance for someone who cares.
The government should stop counting the defence kills as part of the quota.

The more people dont kill bears the more aggressive they are to humans.
Not suggesting to kill all the bears, there needs to be a seperation in defencekills and quotas. Inuit are and will be careful not to endanger the population.

#5. Posted by Frank on September 07, 2018

# 3 - like that made sense. Look up the word ‘coherent’.

#6. Posted by Wannabe on September 07, 2018

Inuit polar bear hunting. Inuit use to go polar bear hunting in autumn and right after freeze up and then in March when their fur is at its best. We Inuit had lots of seals in the hunting area. Polar bears mostly stayed out of range. Any of polar bears that came into range were gift to the hunter from nature. There were always lots of polar bears even without quota. Quota was never necessary. A none-Inuk came up with a thought of restricting Inuit hunters. It’s all part of controlling of a race. Showing domination over aboriginals.

#7. Posted by Inuk on September 12, 2018

#5 it can be difficult for someone like you to understand, hopefully you will mature enough some day.

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