Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 3  March, 2011

Limit set for Native polar bear hunters under international treaty
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Alaska/Russia: An international treaty will limit the number of polar bears Natives in Northwest Alaska can harvest. It will also legalize polar bear hunting in Russia for the first time in decades.  New laws will help prevent illegal hunting in Russia, which is wide-spread.

Indigenous peoples and scientists had equal input into making decisions, said Eric Regehr from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Russia -
U.S. treaty commission agreed that Native subsistence hunters in each country could take 29 bears from the Alaska-Chukotka bear population. Of those, only 9 - 10 can be female. 

The limits may begin next year and could change based on new information. The four-member commission -- comprised of two Russian and two U.S. members -- must still determine how the hunt will be monitored and regulated.

Those plans will be more firmly laid out at a commission meeting this spring.

The commission members are Geoff Haskett, Alaska director for USFWS, Charlie Johnson, director of the Alaska Nanuq Commission, Amirkhan Amirkhanov, the Russian federal government representative and Sergei Kavry, the Native commissioner from Russia.

The Alaska-Chukotka population is roughly estimated at about
2,000 bears. It is only one of two bear populations in the  U.S.  The other is the Southern Beaufort Sea population. Their range is between Alaska and Canadasaid Regehr.There's no evidence that the Alaska-Chukotka bears are declining in numbers. However, their counterparts are. That may be in part because Alaska-Chukotka bears have greater access to seals and other food.

The world's scientists and Native people share concerns Alaska-Chukotka bears will suffer too. Long term predictions are that climate change will soon reduce the sea ice where the group hunts.

Alaska Natives are the only group in the U.S. allowed to hunt polar bears. The quota won't be a drastic change. In recent years, they've only harvested 30 bears which dropped from earlier limits.

The Inupiaq from the Northwest have never faced a limit, but they must harvest the bears in a non-wasteful manner.  Regehr said the meat feeds families and sometimes dog teams. The hide and other body parts can be used to make handicrafts.

The limit has been well-received among Alaska Natives. "Of course, what we're talking about is another restriction on one of our inherent rights," said Jack Omelak from the Alaska Nanuq Commission.  "Before this agreement we had no quota on polar bears, but they were still used responsibly."

Many Alaska Natives also support the limit because their cousins across the Bering Strait can legally hunt for the first time in
65 years.

The limit in Russia is designed to reduce illegal hunting. About
70 - 300 are killed illegally each year.

Across the world, local involvement has helped protect game populations, said Margaret Williams from World Wildlife Fund.  She said villagers may be the only hope to monitor hunts in remote areas of Russia where poachers kill bears for their valuable hides.

Efforts by Canada and Alaska Natives have been making efforts to protect the Southern Beaufort Sea population. With monitors and taggers in villages, and with scientific support, they've set conservative quotas in past years.  This year, they may drop their subsistence harvest to a total of
70 polar bears a year -- 35 for each country.  The current total is 80.

The Southern Beaufort population consists of
1,526 polar bears, and there's evidence their numbers are declining.


 Volume 1
On Day Dedicated to Native Americans, A Move to Honor Hopi Tribe's Code Talkers
New Office to Serve as Advocates for Tribal Veterans 
Metis Livid About Proposed Status System
Saying NO to $1 Billion Dollars
New Images of Remote Brazil Tribe
Amazonian Indians More Advanced Than We Knew
Australia's Aborigines to Launch Political Party
Irish Travellers to Shed Light on Indigenous Research

Volume 2
Berenstain Bears to Speak Lakota
Students Tell Saanich Myths Through Computer Animation  
Children's Book Exhibit Depicts Native Path to Diabetes Prevention
Mentoring Program Coming to Kodiak
100% Knights to Create Career Pathways for Aboriginal Students
Arizona Culinary School Recruits American Indians, Now Available for Federal Financial Aid
Book Lets Great Lakes American Indians Tell Their Own Story
Volume 3
UN Declares 2011 the "International Year of Forests"
Think the Super Bowl Battle was Big? Fight Over Conservation Funding Looms Larger
Limit Set for Native Polar Bear Hunters Under International Treaty
White House: Tribes Fare Well in 2012 Budget
Ziebach County South Dakota: America's Poorest County
Top 5 Obama Regulations that American Businesses Hate Most
The Top 11 Corporate Cash Hoarders
Volume 4
Donna Karan Collaborates With an Indigenous Artist as Part of "Nomad Two Worlds" Art Exhibit
Alligator Wrestling and the Men Who Do It
Custer Flag to Be Sold by DIA
Museums Work to Credit the Individuals Behind Native American Artwork
All My Relations Gallery Showcase for Native Art
Grammy Winner Helps Locals Build, Understand Flutes
German TV Crew Films Program About Nokota Horses

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