Southern Hudson Bay polar bear meeting delayed

Voluntary quota for Nunavik, Nunavut, Ontario still in place

By SAMANTHA DAWSON

Meetings to find a new total allowable harvest for the Southern Hudson Bay polar bear sub-population shared by Nunavut, Quebec and Ontario are delayed until a final report on the status animals becomes available, said Drikus Gissing, the director of wildlife management with the Government of Nunavut.

The meetings, scheduled for Inukjuak, have been delayed because a final report from aerial surveys are not ready.

“Email indication indicated that the report will be available before the end of March, so likely this summer I would guess for [the meetings],” he said.

The final report will contain information from aerial surveys done in 2011 and 2012.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources carried out the 2011 survey.

To cover the entire population area, an additional aerial survey extension took place in Sept. 2012, carried out by the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife, the GN, and Ontario.

It covered the Belcher, Sleeper and Ottawa Islands, the Quebec coast, and the James Bay area.

Analysis of the data is still under way.

The combined voluntary quota for the Southern Hudson Bay polar bear sub-population, is 60.

We’ll continue this up until we have a new total allowable harvest in place,” he said.

Gissing said there are about 1,000 bears in the sub-population, “which means that they are abundant and there is not an immediate conservation concern.”

Preliminary analysis from the two surveys indicates that the population is likely stable with the harvest that took place over the last number of years, he said.

“[But] we need to be cautious and wait for the report to come out,” Gissing said.

Any meetings on the South Hudson Bay polar bear are significant for Nunavut.

“Because the harvest that takes place in these other jurisdictions have an impact on Nunavut’s hunt and sub-population, it’s the same bears that we all hunt,” Gissing said.

Good communication between jurisdictions and determining a sustainable total allowable harvest is important, he said.

That includes the allocation of that total allowable harvest between the various management authorities.

In 2012, less than 60 bears from the sub-population were harvested.

The season runs from the first of July until the end of June, so there are still numbers that need to come in, Gissing said.

In the previous harvest season the number of bears harvested was 54.

The self-determined quota, which is still in place for the current harvest season is:

• 26 for Nunavik Inuit, and 4 for Cree of Eeyou Istchee;

• 25 for Nunavut;

• 5 for the six coastal Cree Nations of Ontario.

However, there have been conservation concerns about the South Hudson polar bears in the past.

“There were concerns with the harvest a few years back when there was a significant increase in the hunt from Quebec, that created a conservation concern,” Gissing said.

“But at this stage we will have to wait for a report to see if they’re over-harvesting,” he said.

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