One of the people who oversee’s an Indigenous hunt of polar bears says the population is doing well, despite heart-wrenching photos online suggesting some bears are starving.
Every year, the Nunatsiavut government awards polar bear licenses to Inuit hunters living in the northern Labrador settlement area.
The Inuit set a quota of 12 polar bears this winter. Nunatsiavut wildlife manager Jim Goudie said all 12 were taken within the first seven days of the season.
A 2007 study showed that there were roughly 2,150 bears in the Davis Strait region, which was nearly 1,300 more than previously thought. A new study is currently underway to determine if that trend has continued.
Goudie said it’s just the latest evidence that polar bears are on the rebound in northern Canada — a trend he said officials have been recording for years.
Healthy numbers, misinformed public
Goudie said prior to a 2007 survey, it was estimated there were about 880 polar bears in the northern Labrador and northern Quebec regions.
However, the study actually found 2,152 animals, a significant increase over the earlier estimate.
Researchers are now two years into a new study, and Goudie said word of mouth indicates the population is continuing to rebound.
“I think our polar bear population is very, very healthy,” he said. “The Davis Strait polar bear population is probably one of the most healthy in Canada, and certainly in the world.”
Goudie said while there are a few different polar bear groups that are in trouble, the majority are thriving.
He said despite that, most people have no idea and — from what he sees online — many seem to think that polar bears are in trouble and in decline globally.
Goudie points to one post he saw recently from National Geographic that showed what appeared to be a starving polar bear, but in reality, was an animal that was sick.
“It’s an easy story to put out there, that polar bears are in massive trouble. Sometimes I have to bite my tongue or keep my fingers off the keyboard when I see those social media posts,” he said.