Inuit polar bear subsistence hunters from two East Greenland regions, Tasiilaq and Ittoqqortoormiit, report changes to their hunting patterns as well as polar bear distribution and behaviour due to decreasing sea ice and the introduction of hunting quotas in 2006. The hunters have observed large climate changes in their hunting areas—including warmer weather, less sea ice and disappearing glaciers—which the majority say have affected the polar bear hunt. More hunters are now using boats than dog sledges due to loss of sea ice. The hunters also note that more polar bears are coming into their communities looking for food, and that the bears are eating more seal parts than previously. Published in Frontiers in Marine Science, the study is the first in nearly 20 years to document traditional knowledge on polar bear catches and ecology in East Greenland—providing a valuable baseline for monitoring future changes as well as the polar bear population.
Inuit hunters have a strong understanding of the Arctic environment and can share information passed down from older generations as well as from their personal experiences. This is very valuable to management and conservation efforts. MORE