Western Hudson Bay survey cites 1,013 animals; biologist says single aerial study doesn't establish health of population
Northern News Services
Published Monday, April 9, 2012
An aerial survey estimated the Western Hudson Bay polar bear sub-population at 1,013 animals, higher than other predictions stemming from the past eight years.
The majority of polar bears seen during the survey were in the Manitoba and Ontario portion of the Hudson Bay, where the animal distribution resembled previous studies. - NNSL file photo
The territorial government released the summary report, on March 20, of an aerial survey undertaken from Aug. 13 to 29, 2011 - a period when bears are largely confined to land.
During the survey period, 31 polar bears were seen in the Nunavut portion of the survey area, with the distribution "very similar" to the ones recorded by the territorial government in 2007 and 2010.
"The density of bears in Nunavut was relatively low in comparison to other parts of WH (Western Hudson Bay)," stated the summary report. "Most bears were concentrated along the coast and islands, in particular the area south of Arviat."
It adds the majority of polar bears seen during the survey were in the Manitoba and Ontario portion of the Hudson Bay, where the animal distribution resembled previous studies. Tagging studies done in Manitoba in 2004 estimated the Western Hudson Bay polar bear population at 934. The report states results of the tagging studies, along with harvesting information from 2004 to 2011, predicted the sub-population would decline to about 650 bears by 2011.