This polar bear hunting quota brought to you by Coca-Cola

There’s a lot riding on the results of the latest polar bear count

by Emily Senger

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Depending on whom you listen to, the polar bear population in Canada’s Far North is either in serious decline or surprisingly robust. Last spring when the government of Nunavut released the results of a polar bear count on the western shores of Hudson Bay, it claimed the number of bears was nearly 70 per cent higher than first thought. Biologists and environmentalists insisted the government figures were simply wrong.

The government of Nunavut hopes to put the debate to rest with results from the largest-ever polar bear survey, a three-year, $2.5-million project, the results of which will start to be made available within the next month or so. Nunavut, along with the Northwest Territories, had an unlikely partner on the project: Coca-Cola Canada. Working with the World Wildlife Fund, Coca-Cola matched Canadians’ donations for conservation efforts; a portion of the money, roughly $200,000, went to Nunavut and the Northwest Territories to fund the 2012 survey.

But while the company’s participation might fit with its cuddly polar bear marketing campaigns, the data gathered in the project will ultimately be used to determine how many bears hunters can kill.

The WWF uses the term “sustainable management” to discuss the goals of the count in the Baffin Bay and Kane Basin area, where an official count has not been carried out in more than a decade, while Nunavut director of wildlife management Drikus Gissing says “polar bear harvest.” Both are delicate ways of discussing hunting quotas. This year the hunting quota for polar bears in those regions is around 110.

No matter how the final data will be used, Martin von Mirbach, director of WWF Canada’s Arctic program, says having the same, accurate starting point for both government and conservation groups is key. “We should be invested in the same data sets that wildlife managers use, which is why we partner with those management agencies,” he says.

For Coca-Cola, getting involved in fundraising to save polar bears could be a bit of a gamble. The bears are not only a symbol for the company’s advertising, they are also a “symbol of national pride for Canadians,” says vice-president of sparkling beverages Shane Grant. The company said in a statement that “respecting the cultural and spiritual rights of the Inuit hunt” is also part of the overall survey it supports. The full results of the survey will be released in 2014.

There are an estimated 15,000 polar bears in Canada. If Gissing’s theory that “polar bears are still abundant” is proven by the survey data, Nunavut could allow more of those bears to be hunted.




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This polar bear hunting quota brought to you by Coca-Cola

  1. I don’t see the need to hunt these bears! What purpose do the Inuit say killing these bear serves? Historical? This is the year 2013! If your hungry go to the store. I’m from Yellowknife I know that the gov’t won’t let you starve! Let nature decide how many shiuld survive.

    • Very ignorant comment Trevor T. People in Nunavut eat polar bear, and some few outfitters actually make some money and get jobs in smaller communities due to polar bear hunt. There are few jobs and opportunities, and much hunger in Nunavut communities. Try to buy food in the store with no money. Good luck! And btw. meat bought in the store was also killed at some point…. As long as the quotas and harvest is sustainable please let us continue our hunt in Nunavut and refrain from spreading ignorant comments.

      • I think in the artic they could find some other form of MEAT other than POLAR BEAR, when chances are they won’t be around for to much longer!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thank you!!

  2. REMINDER of the definition of TO HARVEST: “The product or result of any exertion or labor” (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/harvest)

    Shooting a defenceless polar bear with a high-powered rifle is NOT the product or result of ANY exertion or labor, but merely nouveau-riche cowardice… So STOP using this word in the context of ANY wildlife!

  3. This article ignores that there are others who hunt the polar bear and their reasons are excess, not to sustain their own lives in the arctic.
    Aboriginal rights to hunt and fish are one thing, yet the reality is the well-known practice of Polar bear hunt tourism will also benefit from these numbers and that practice is still legal. Rich businessmen pay top dollar to hunt in Canada’s arctic… compensating for their inability to imagine their own masculinity beyond the conquest of these revered creatures. Protect indigenous rights to hunt, fine, but lets be real; not everyone hunting these bears are doing so for sustenance.

  4. Defenseless bear??? Guess what happens when you outlaw the hunting of defenseless bears? There are so many bears that there is not enough food for them all so the defenseless bears enter the human domain and kill people. Wildlife management is about ensuring the population of a species. Overpopulation also results in starvation, disease and inbreeding. That’s how species become extinct.

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