The government of the Northwest Territories is offering $1750 per polar bear pelt, up considerably from the $400 they were giving. The purpose for the increase is apparently to bring more polar bear pelts to auction. North Bay, Ontario in July is where and when the next auction will be.
Canada has about two-thirds of the world’s wild polar bears. Their national government has listed them as a species of special concern, which means they receive less legal protection than those designated as threatened or endangered. Still they do receive some protections, meaning in most areas no hunting or trapping of them is allowed, except for indigenous peoples.
The Canadian national government maintains a website about wild animals and their legal protection called the Species at Risk Public Registry. In the polar bear section, they list various threats for them as hunting, climate change resulting in habitat loss and loss of prey animals for food, human pollution, and polar bears eating each other.
For Ontario, the SRRR website says, “In Ontario, the Polar Bear is protected under the Endangered Species Act, 2007. Polar Bears are also protected under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997, and there is no hunting or trapping season. Nevertheless, under Treaty 9, Aboriginal people residing along the Hudson Bay and James Bay coast are permitted to harvest Polar Bears, including females with cubs and bears in dens.” (Source: Species at Risk Public Registry)
So the government allows female polar bears with cubs to be killed, at the same time they are protected? The provincial government pays $400 to $1750 per polar bear pelt, in what appears to be a subsidy to aboriginal people to help supplement their incomes. So perhaps the polar bear pelt payments are charitable to those people, but how about giving them the money to protect the besieged bears, rather than to contribute to their demise? What sense is there in paying people to kill bears that are in all practical terms endangered, though politics prevents them from being afforded that legal status?
Image Credit: Alan Wilson