New polar bear agreement reached

polar-bearGreenland and Canada have agreed to work together to co-manage their joint polar bear population.

The arrangement involves both the Greenland and Canadian governments along with the territorial government of Nunavut in Canada.

Jim Prentice, Canada’s Federal Environment Minister travelled to Kangerlussuaq in Western Greenland on the 29th of October to meet with his counterparts as they reached a common agreement on polar bear management, according to Siku News.

The tripartite accord has been in the planning for several months and will encompass the Canadian Arctic along with hunting regions shared by Greenland and the Nunavut federal territory, notably Baffin Bay and the Kane basin.

The practice of hunting polar bears has been the cause of considerable international controversy for many years, with environmental experts claiming that the population is not sustainable under current levels. In recent years activists in the USA have been at the forefront of moves to classify the polar bear as an endangered species at risk due to climate change. It is currently classified as vulnerable.

Sixty eight bears are hunted under quota by Greenland in Baffin Bay each year and there is substantial pressure on Nunavut authorities to adopt similar limits. Presently the quota for Nunavut hunters in Baffin Bay is 108 polar bears although the territory has proposed reducing the number to 64 or the possible introduction of a complete moratorium in the area.

However, Inuit hunters have claimed the Baffin Bay polar bear population is in fact not going down but increasing. The Inuit say their information is more reliable than scientific studies given their close contact with the animals.

The total population is around 25,000 in global Polar Regions. Of the 13 polar bear subpopulations in Canada, those in the Kane Basin and Baffin Bay are shared between Nunavut and Greenland.

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