NEWS: Nunavut November 27, 2012 - 2:37 pm

Polar bears a big nuisance for Hall Beach residents

“People are pretty scared”


Hall Beach has a polar bear problem.

“When did I come here, about half an hour ago? There was a polar bear walking right in front of us,” laughs the mayor of Hall Beach, Paul Haulli.

Haulli said he’s seeing more polar bears in the community now then ever before — almost every day.

“People are pretty scared. We have to make sure we have bylaw officers or a polar bear watch on patrol lately,” Haulli said.

A few days ago, a polar bear apparently killed a dog in the community, according to a local resident who tipped off Nunatsiaq News Nov. 27.

Haulli said he knew “a little about it,” but did not want to talk about the incident.

The problem is, the community of Hall Beach has reached their polar bear quota limit for the year and people can’t hunt any more bears.

“The polar bear quota is gone and we’re not allowed to shoot them. It’s very hard because it seems like the polar bears belong to the government,” Haulli said.

“Sometimes in danger we have to try to obey as much as we can. It’s pretty hard.”

Many children walk around the community to get to the gymnasium or community hall — something that’s an issue with Haulli because days are getting shorter, and the risk of seeing a bear is higher.

“It’s dangerous for the kids,” Haulli said.

The reason the mayor thinks there are more polar bears than usual in Hall Beach is because lots of hunters had been aging walrus meat over the summer.

That’s when hunters store the walrus meat underground along the beach to ferment the meat. Fermented meat, or igunaq, is high in protein, and is traditionally known for flushing out the digestive system.

Haulli said storing lots of walrus meat is something the hamlet, hunters and trappers association, and people in the community should discuss in the future.

But what does Haulli think of the polar bear potentially becoming an endangered species?

“I don’t believe that. We’re seeing lots of polar bears.”