NTI’s polar bear bumper sticker to be shown at CITES
“We see these animals as intelligent beings”
Polar bears are okay. Their populations are healthy, stable and can sustain responsible harvesting.
That’s the message Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. wants to take to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species meeting in Thailand next March via their new bumper sticker, officially released and handed out during Nunavut Day celebrations by NTI President Cathy Towtongie.
The sticker, which was mailed to all Nunavut residents, and will be distributed further in coming months, features a mother bear and cub, standing on sea ice, in a landscape of snow and sky.
“NTI intends to carry this message to the world,” Towtongie said.
It’s important people know and understand that what Inuit have said for decades is true, she said.
The purpose of the stickers is to inform southern Canadians, an international audience and environmental groups such as Greenpeace that polar bears are okay, she said.
Inuit are on the land and water all year-round and it is known that the polar bears pose a threat to Inuit and other animals, Towtongie said.
The idea that climate change is forcing a decline in polar bear populations is part of what Towtongie calls incomplete scientific data.
“What they fail to see [is] they are both land and sea mammals,” she said, adding that the bears can flourish in both.
Inuit knowledge has existed for much longer than scientific studies, Towtongie said.
“In fact, their populations have increased,” she said.
The bears have become more aggressive, and in the summer they eat eggs that could affect migratory bird populations.
The bears also do not hesitate to venture into communities.
“They are no longer afraid of humans,” she said.
The bears can be responsibly harvested in Nunavut because of a well-managed quota system.
“Nunavut always had a quota system when it came to polar bears,” Towtongie said.
The bears are essential to Inuit culturally, socially and economically.
Towtongie does not like the polar bear being depicted as cute and cuddly in southern imagery.
“We see these animals as intelligent beings,” she said.
When a bear is harvested, every part of it is used for meat, clothing and carving material. “Everything is used, it is not wasted.”
The stickers will “provide a small glimpse of how we see the polar bears.”