GN to study Foxe Basin polar bears

Field work expected to begin later this summer

Field work to study the Foxe Basin polar bear subpopulation is planned for August 2024. (File photo)

By Kierstin Williams

Research studies on the Foxe Basin polar bear subpopulation are being undertaken by the Government of Nunavut.

Environment Minister Daniel Qavvik told the legislative assembly Thursday that consultations are underway with hunters and trappers organizations in Kimmirut, Naujaat, Coral Harbour, Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet, Kinngait, Sanirajak and Igloolik, with field work planned to begin in August.

Foxe Basin is the body of water that separates Baffin Island from the rest of Nunavut, north of Hudson Bay.

Polar bear research is expensive and highly challenging, according to Qavvik, and it’s a big job, too.

“Nunavut is managing 60 per cent of the world’s polar bears, which is a substantial responsibility,” said Qavvik.

There were an estimated 2,585 polar bears living in the Foxe Basin area, according to a 2022 report from the Polar Bear Technical Committee, whose members include government representatives, Inuit organizations and scientists.

The report noted a decline in the bears’ sea-ice habitat over the past 25 years.

The project is expected to cost around $1.3 million, said a spokesperson from Qavvik’s office in an email.

Qavvik also announced his department has secured supplemental funding to offset the studies’ high costs and will continue to seek external funding and support.

Additional money for the research is anticipated from the Quebec government, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, and the Nunavik Marine Region Management Board.


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(10) Comments:

    • Posted by Johanne Coutu-Autut on

      Unfortunately Markus passed a couple years ago doing a polar bear survey in the high Arctic.

    • Posted by sad on

      sadly Markus passed away in the helicopter crash a while back

    • Posted by Forever Amazed on

      I understand completely why you would want Markus to head the study. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us.

  1. Posted by Moe on

    Markus no matter what his form will always be with the bears. He really cared thanks everybody for being

    • Posted by Please share on

      Can you please share more about Markus ? sounds like he was a very interesting fellow and I would like to learn more about him .

  2. Posted by Mass Formation on

    What type of count will this be, air or tranquilize/handle/release? Jim Bell wrote in Nunatsiaq News May 8, 2008, the Inuit stood tall against the drugging of polar bears.

    And the Gov of Nunavut back then talking with Health Canada to lift the one year wait period ban before eating tranquilizer polar bear meat. CBC, in 2019, report Health Canada ok’d the eating of polar bear meat after a 45 day wait of tranquilized drugged polar bears.

    Interesting numbers from the 2008 article. Elizabeth Peacock GN polar bear biologist back then estimates 2,200 polar bears. Mid 1990s estimates were 2,100 and in the 2024 article above, 2022 estimate are 2,585 polar bears.

    With one funder named Environment and Climate Change, can we expect dooming counts?

    Sort of like other… Science by press release where it made headline news the Western Hudson Bay Polar bears in a 27% decline. But kept quiet the 30% population increase in the Southern Hudson Bay polar bears.

    • Posted by “Has Been Hunter” on

      The days when polar bears were tranquilized and marked by Nunavut GN biologists are long past instances now. The GN did take heed from hunters and no Nunavut polar bear biologists tranquilize and drug bears anymore. If still practiced, then it is entities outside Nunavut. Biopsy darting though way less invasive and less reliable is the norm now. All this was put out by the biologists when they were doing their consultations earlier this winter.

  3. Posted by Confused on

    Polar bear hunters would be more honest if they study the bears, not the people protecting them.

  4. Posted by Northman on

    Don,t they still tranquilize in Church Hill, are they not part of these bears, also I don,t want to see tracking bands on bears neck or caribou. Thanks

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