Time to Stop Canada’s Polar Bear Hunt

The Center for Biological Diversity, a US conservation group, has filed a formal request with the Department of the Interior, CBC News reports. The group is calling for a ban on all Canadian wildlife product imports. The proposed ban is in protest against the recent decision of the Nunavut territorial government to increase this year’s quota on the polar bear hunt in one of the defined hunting regions.

It’s actually rather shocking that polar bears are still being legally killed for trophy hunts. They’re considered a threatened species; in fact, they’re the first species to be added to the endangered species list due to the threat from global warming. I think few enough people are aware that polar bear hunting is still legally sanctioned. If they were, we might by now have forced government tourism and game departments to get with the program.

We’ve covered this issue at Care2 already. Last year, Russia put a stop to their hunt. Canada, however, is still resisting pressure from conservationists to follow suit. The Arctic is a fragile ecosystem, and each year the environmental pressure of a changing climate is tougher on the polar bear population. Decreased sea ice has a direct effect on the ability of the bears to travel and hunt. And the danger of over-hunting, which is even putting the much larger harp seal populations at risk, are difficult to overstate.

Admittedly, this is somewhat of a sticky issue. The Inuit have lived in the Arctic for thousands of years in a sustainable way, never increasing their populations above what the land could support, and never over-hunting the species they depended on for food. Sustaining themselves on a purely carnivorous diet, they had to carefully manage caribou and seal populations, and never wasted any part of their kills.

The Inuit are one of the few indigenous groups in Canada that have still maintained much of their way of life since the New World was colonized by Europeans. Now, thanks to those of us down south, with our Hummers and Big Macs, Arctic species are at risk. And we’re telling the Inuit we need to step in and tell them what they can and can’t do.

It feels wrong, probably because we have done wrong to get to this state. But I don’t think it’s wrong to try to put on the brakes before these species disappear forever. And when we look a little more closely, the cultural reasons seem to pale before the enormous economic incentives of both hunts. Truthfully, the way these hunts are conducted now is very commercially sound, but not all that traditional. It’s not traditional to slaughter as many seals as can possibly be found, even though they won’t be consumed by the tribe.

The much smaller polar bear hunt, meanwhile, is conducted for trophy purposes. This again is not something that a people in harmony with their environment will sanction. And the money flowing in from these enterprises is not going just to the Inuit, either. Stephen Harper has steadfastly stood behind these hunts, but I feel confident cultural protection is not his real motivation.

If it were, though, just for the sake of argument, a question of preserving Inuit culture versus preserving these species, what then? Even if the direct result of conservation measures would be to impinge heavily on the Inuit way of life, I think we have to do so. The world is changing, and mitigating the damage will continue to require changing everyone’s way of life. Consider the alternative.

One way or another these hunts will stop. The only question is, will we stop them in time, or get a couple extra years out of them at the expense of wiping these species out forever?

Related stories:

Tell Canada It Has No Excuses Left for Seal Hunt

Increased Arctic Shrubbery May Destroy Permafrost

Polar Bear Hunting Banned in Russia This Year

Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Lesa D
Lesa Dabout a month ago

#4389 petition signed...

thank you, Joel...

William C
William C3 months ago


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

Helga Kordjukova
Helga Kordjukova2 years ago

thanks for signing:
"End Polar Bear Trophy Hunts"

Gerald L.
Gerald L2 years ago

Options for Polar Bear Tourism also risk human life, re: garbage disposal practices. Should the GarBagE be FlowN OuT as the groceries are flown in.

PDF] Polar Bear-human conflicts: state of knowledge and research needs
important for wildlife managers and circumpolar communities for ... food webs likely compound this problem by ultimately reducing the abundance of their ... from Churchill,. Manitoba, Canada, where for decades Polar Bears have had access ... Bears that had fed in the Churchill garbage dump were significantly more likely ...

'Conflict reduction project' helps Nunavut community celebrate a ...
news.nationalpost.com/.../conflict-reduction-project-helps-nunavut- community-celebrate-a-year-without-shooting-a-single-polar-bear/‎
6 Feb 2013 ... Polar bears are a regular fixture at the town dump and are known to make regular ... Hamlet of Arviat handoutA young polar bear at the Arviat garbage dump. ... similar to how unwanted polar bears are dealt with in Churchill, Manitoba. .... Didn't realize in Nunavut there was such a big problem, plague even, ...

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Gerald L.
Gerald L2 years ago

Yap, yap, us evil Canadians; where are most of the hunters coming from, and WhaT CounTrY are they living IN, or operating ouT oF???

Try again.

CCWJ Hunts - Black, Grizzly, Alaskan Brown, Polar Bear Hunting ...
CCWJ Hunts has done the work for you in selecting the best bear hunting ... We have many options available for a trophy bear hunt in Alaska, Canada and the Arctic. ... Prices range from $995US - $4,000US depending on the area and final ... The British Columbia grizzly season was closed earlier in 2001 for a short while, ...

Is it legal to hunt polar bears? - Yahoo Answers
I am an Alaskan hunter and trapper. I really wish ... A typical polar bear hunt costs $15,000 to $25,000 plus logistics. In 2008 ... I suppose one could buy a license to take a polar bear, but they are quite capable of hunting YOU!

Christina Wilson
Christina Wilson2 years ago

It's up to Canadians to get out there and vote! Most of us seem to be too apathetic about it, and that is exactly why things are the way that they are. Vote Green Party folks, they are the only party out there that are not crooks, do not have any vested interests and are not out to line their own pockets. Whenever I tell this to people, I get the same answer:"I want to put my vote behind a party that has a chance of winning.". Well, guess what? That is precisely the reason why the Greens are such a minority. Let's change this situation!

Christina Wilson
Christina Wilson2 years ago

It makes me ashamed to be a Canadian! How disgusting.

Angela Padovani
Angie P3 years ago

End these hunts on polar bears. Such beautiful creatures and we are killing them off for no reason except money and for someone to say they shot a bear. Whoop-de-do. Not much of a person if you need to kill any animal for a trophy, and then use the dead animal to prove something to people.

Mary B.
Mary B4 years ago

R.R......how silly to boycott a whole country for something that most Canadians abhor as well.....Maybe you should worry about your wolf hunts, or your "canned" hunts in some states, or wild horse slaughter or foie gras, or Canada Geese cull..... We ALL have animal atrocities in ALL our countries.... we continue to work towards an end to these things.....a proud Canadian