Limit set for Native polar bear hunters under
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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