Next year polar bear hunters in remote villages on the coast of the Chukchi Sea will have higher harvest quotes.
The US-Russia Polar Bear Commission, created by treaty in 2000 with the goals of conservation and restoration of traditional subsistence harvest by Native people of Chukotka, increased the possible harvest level for bears in the Chukchi Sea from 58 to 85 bears.
The quota is divided between the two countries, although all polar bear hunting remains banned in Russia since 1956. Last week in Egvekinot, Chukotka the commission heard new estimates of bear abundance by science advisers and recommendations by indigenous and local sources.
The executive director of the Alaska Nannut Co-Management Council, which represents Alaska tribes that hunt for polar bears, Katya Wassillie, said a higher quota does not mean more bears will be killed. She commented, “Our communities in the area of the Chukchi Sea polar bear had not met that quota consistently in the last 10 years.”
According to new preliminary information on health and numbers of bears, Chukchi bears remain larger and fatter and have not seen downward trends in cub production and survival.
According to the Associated Press, Wassillie said that the Scientific Working Group provided a range of 50 to 120 bears in its recommendation for a sustainable harvest. While the medium-risk range was 80 to 90 bears.