WWF plans polar bear/human conflict research program with Nunavut communities

Scientists and Inuit alike have been documenting increases in polar bear time spent ashore, and bear forays into hunting camps and villages, in search of food. With WWF support, this fall in two communities Inuit will be storing harvested country food (e.g., caribou, char, ringed seal) in large bear-proof steel containers (which should also reduce the odour that attracts bears from long distances in the first place).
With the Government of Nunavut and community partners there will also be a pilot effort to place electric fencing around sled dog teams that are chained near the community (these attract hungry polar bears too in some regions). Next year, WWF will be closely involved with a Nunavut awareness and training workshop regarding polar bear deterrence and human communities, including bringing a representative from the long-established polar bear patrol communities (Umky Patrol) in northern Chukotka.

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Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut. One of the two initial communities taking part in the program (c) Peter Ewins / WWF-Canada

These measures are the type of practical steps we will all now have to take in order to adapt as best we can to the inevitable impacts of unprecedented rapid climate change, and to allow wildlife populations and local communities to persist to the end of this Century. Obviously massive reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions are ultimately what’s needed to stabilize these arctic ecosystems, and hence our planet’s climate and hydrological system.
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Polar bears at Resolute food area (c) Sarah Medill / Government of Nunavut