There are four subpopulations of polar bears in the ISR: Southern Beaufort Sea (SB), Northern Beaufort Sea (NB), Viscount Melville Sound (VM) and Arctic Basin (AB). These subpopulations are all shared with jurisdictions outside ISR (i.e. Alaska & Nunavut). Subpopulations were delineated using information on polar bear movement patterns and genetics as well as consideration of management. There is frequent movement of bears between these areas, and both scientists and Inuvialuit consider the SB and NB to be a single group of bears that move according to good hunting conditions, however, subpopulations are employed as units to facilitate harvest management.
The boundary between the NB and SB populations was revised in 2013/14 in an attempt to better reflect separation between these subpopulations based on movement analyses. The current east/west boundary is at 133°W. For this change to occur, community consultations and additional analyses were undertaken to inform final recommendations for the boundary change and subsequent quota changes. The changes were implemented commencing in the 2013/14 hunting season.
Regionally, polar bear abundance estimates have been determined from scientific population mark-recapture studies; work is underway to refine less invasive methods (such as aerial surveys) that provide necessary information to managers, while eliminating the use of immobilization drugs and minimizing disturbance to polar bears. Techniques have also been developed for the rigorous collection of traditional knowledge information, which along with scientific information is used to inform population trends.
Researchers, managers and Inuit work collaboratively with their counterparts in neighboring jurisdictions. This has typically been accomplished through the established user-to-use agreements developed between the Inuvialuit and the Inupiat of Alaska, and the Inuvialuit and Inuit of Nunavut. Joint commissions established through these agreements meet annually to review ongoing monitoring and get advice from technical advisors. Each meeting results in recommendations for research, monitoring and management actions.
Inuvialuit and Nanuq- A Polar Bear Traditional Knowledge Study and its Summary accessible at: