Sex-Selective Harvesting

The harvest of polar bears in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories is managed under an annual, sex-selective harvest system. The polar bear quota is based on current population estimates, estimated population growth rates, and the planned sex ratio of the harvest. Simulation modelling has shown that, for polar bear populations, about twice as many males as females can be harvested because males do not produce cubs and on average females are only available to mate every two years because of extended parental care. Males can also breed with multiple females in a given season which reinforces that females are the limiting factor for species survival. Sex-selective harvesting is a common wildlife management tool, and helps ensure the sustainability of polar bear populations while maximizing harvest opportunities of Aboriginal hunters.