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Good year for hunters, bad for bears

Whale Cove man shoots bear from inside home

Nathan VanderKlippe
Northern News Services

Whale Cove (Dec 05/01) - It's been a good year for polar bear hunting in the Kivalliq.

All across the North, bears have been in plentiful supply as they wait on land for a late freeze-up.

In some communities, bears have wandered dangerously close to houses. In November, a man in Whale Cove shot a bear from inside his house through a window. Another bear was shot about 15 metres away from a house in October. Of the 12 bear tags issued to Whale Cove this year, eight have already been used.

"This year is pretty good, last year was pretty bad," said Hunters and Trappers Association board member Guy Enuapik.

The same is true for Arviat, where the hamlet's 20 tags were used up in less than two weeks of their issuance. "Last year we had one (tag) left because there were hardly any bears," said local HTO secretary-manager Hannah Muckpah. "But this year it took us only 12 days."

A Norwegian camper recently killed another bear in the community out of self-defence.

Some bears have approached the hamlet and wandered around the outskirts, but Muckpah said it is nothing out of the ordinary.

"I would say it's just a normal yearly thing that happens, because they've been coming in quite a lot," he said.

In Repulse Bay, polar bears have stayed out of the hamlet, unlike last year.

"We had some polar bears come into town last year in the fall, but this year not even one came in," said HTO member Levi Katokra.

The same is true for Coral Harbour.

"Here on occasion we would have a bear come by in the vicinity of the community, but not right up to my window or my doorstep," said Mayor Johnny Ningeongan. Of Coral's 26 tags, only three remain.

Even though some bears have approached the communities, people say they are not particularly concerned about safety.

"There's some dogs around here and they bark (if they see a bear)," said Enuapik. "And there's always somebody watching."