Geoff Bartlett · CBC News
One of the people who oversees 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 licences 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.
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.
Comment: One wonders whether the increase is also related to more favourable conditions for polar bears: Extreme winter storms and wave heights have been increasing over the last 70 years in the Western Europe
"There are lots of signs of bears," he told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning. "Lots of bears and a continuation of what we've seen over the last three or four years."
The Nunatsiavut hunt takes place over an area stretching from Cape Chidley at the northern tip of Labrador to Fish Cove Point further south near Rigolet.
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 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.
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