Which statement would both the Inuit hunter and the biologist agree with?
The Polar Bear Debate
Inuit hunters and government biologists are at odds with each other concerning the true number of polar bears in the
Baffin Bay region of Upper Canada.
The Inuit people make their living in the region and often hunt the bears as a source of food and clothing. Their
observations lead them to believe the population of bears is rising to higher than normal levels, which can negatively
impact the environment.
The Baffin Bay Polar Bear Biologists have raised concerns about over hunting and believe there is a decline in polar
bear numbers. They believe that the continued pace of hunting will lead to extinction of the species, which will have a
different negative impact on the environment.
As the Baffin Bay Board of Governors decides on how to proceed concerning the polar bear issue, they listen to two
representatives so they can gather evidence and make an informed decision. Below is a summary of what they hear:
The government’s method of researching and tracking polar bear numbers is not accurate. My people have a more
credible perspective, as we are in the field and see the bear numbers increasing. A higher population of bears will lead
to a decrease in the numbers of their prey, including ring seals and walrus. As the bears get hungry and run out of
their natural prey they will go after human food storage sites and refuse cans. There will be property and equipment
damage and you may see an increase of bear attacks on humans as the bears get desperate for food. For these
reasons you need to allow us to continue hunting and even let us increase the number of bears we can get, in order to
keep the population stable and healthy.
At the current rate of hunting, we will see a decrease in the polar bear population to a point below an acceptable
number. This can lead to a decrease in variation among the living bears, which, as any evolutionist will tell you, makes
the species more vulnerable to disease and environmental changes. It can also lead to inbreeding among the bears,
giving you offspring that are weak, prone to disease, and unable to breed successfully. As the polar bear population
decreases, the animals they prey upon will increase in number. This will lead to disease and overcrowding, causing
animals like the seal and walrus to intrude into human environments. For these reasons we need to allow the hunt to
be scaled back and decrease the number of bears taken.