Qikiqtarjuaq needs a conservation officer to keep polar bears at bay: MLA

‘Often I will go outside and there’s a bear on the porch or underneath the stairs,’ says Pauloosie Keyootak

Without available staff housing, the Government of Nunavut hasn’t been able to hire a permanent conservation officer in Qikiqtarjuaq in years. (Photo by Cedric Yves Denis)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Despite polar bears roaming Qikiqtarjuaq, there is no conservation officer to help keep community members safe from the animals.

Pauloosie Keyootak, the MLA for Uqqummiut, raised the issue in the legislative assembly on Wednesday, after three polar bears were within town boundaries earlier this month.

“This is a constant reality in our community,” he said. “Often I will go outside and there’s a bear on the porch or underneath the stairs,” he said.

Pauloosie Keyootak is the MLA representing Uqqummiut. (Photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

“[We have to be] attentive with our children and check whether there is a bear on their way to school, to the store, or on their way home.”

Keyootak said Qikiqtarjuaq has one of the highest populations of polar bears in the territory, but the conservation officer position hasn’t been filled for over a decade.

“Qikiqtarjuaq has not seen a conservation officer for a long time now, perhaps close to 15 years.”

Joe Savikataaq, the minister of environment, confirmed there is currently a wildlife guardian in the community but hiring a permanent conservation officer has been held up by a lack of staff housing.

“Once housing is available, the position would be open.”

According to Savikataaq, eight communities across the territory currently have vacant conservation officer positions: Arviat, Baker Lake, Kugluktuk, Iqaluit, Qikiqtarjuaq, Igloolik, Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet.

He said job descriptions for conservation officers — typically hired within communities — include chasing off bears when sightings are reported.

In the meantime, with the position vacant in Qikiqtarjuaq, Savikataaq said community members should report bear sightings to the regional office or the hamlet office so a bylaw officer can chase it out of town.

In August, three people were medevaced south with injuries following a polar bear attack in Sanirajak.

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Employment on

    Sounds like a job that would be a good fit for a beneficiary but the GN is dragging their feet on this and many other files.

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  2. Posted by Old timer on

    Best way to do it start shooting ever bear coming in then they GN would walk up all so WWF would step in they have lots of money to do this.

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  3. Posted by Aputi on

    ARVIAT hires polar bear monitors every year,open 24/7, they drive around town with bear bangers and set up traps

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    • Posted by Eena Kooneeliusie on

      Let Government build there own housing unit
      There taken away public housing unit
      In the community

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  4. Posted by hunter3 on

    Qik could never keep the wildlife consevration officer position filled because there was a history of the community members harassing and threatening and assaulting any officer that was posted there. THAT is the real reason the position has been vacant for so long that it’s now lost it’s housing unit. Reap what you sow.

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    • Posted by Hunter’s up on

      Sounds like a good job for local inhabitants who are already in a unit. Any hunters are conservationists if they regard the lands and waters

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      • Posted by hunter3 on

        The problem with hiring local inuit into a conservation officer position is that they are often pressured by friends and family to look the other way and they are alienated when trying to their job. It’s not a good position for them to be placed in because of those pressures. It’s been tried.

  5. Posted by Caribou Hunter on

    The difference between NWT and Nunavut is showing now because our poor choice in separating from NWT and limited investment from the Nunavut govt and NTI.
    I assure you if this was still NWT the wildlife officers would have staff housing even the power plant operators would have staff housing but no staff housing is provided expect for some decentralized communities and with their salaries they are barely allowed to be in public housing.
    The sad fact is they need to get their girlfriends or wives to qualify into public housing if they don’t invest in a half a million house.
    So having said that who is at fault here the locals in the communities or the Nunavut govt?

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