Sunday, February 26, 2006

Polar Hunt

There was an article today in the Toronto Sun that really bothered me.

The article is entitled "Polar Extremes: Majestic King of the North faces fight for survival on two fronts: Big game hunters -- and greenhouse gases melting the polar ice cap"

It talks about sport hunting, specifically the hunt for polar bears. And the price tag for hunters to kill one of these majestic and beautiful creatures in our great white north?: a mere $25,000 - $50,000. And yes, it is legal. And yes, the Inuit people do profit from these sport hunts.

And that leaves me quite torn...
I am upset by the hunter who wants to kill a polar bear for sport.
But yet I have learned of how this helps our Inuit people earn income.

I am upset at the thought of any animal being killed for sport. The idea is so foreign and ridiculous to me, I simply can't wrap my mind around hunting for "sport", hunting for a prize, a trophy to mount on your wall, to gloat, for bragging rights, for the thrill of shooting something for the glory of the kill. This kind of hunting bears no respect for these animals.

I grew up in a hunting family, in a province where hunting is the "norm". Families depend on the hunt - of moose, caribou, rabbit, ducks, etc. for food. And I can certainly appreciate the need. I have no problem with hunting in this way. I can appreciate the fact that the people in the north hunt polar bears for furs, for the meat, for the bones and teeth, for anything and everything that can be used. The Inuit have hunted polar bears for centuries and I believe they have a right to do so.

But where to draw the line? It's such a fine one. The hunt for sport, though I believe to be wrong, greatly benefits the Native people of Nunavut. While I am upset by the sport hunter I just can't find it in me to be angry at the Inuit man who assists and guides in this hunt for the welfare of his family. Does that make me a hypocrite and completely undermine my argument? Probably...

My conclusion:
Hunt for food, to fill your freezers, to feed your families, to earn a living...yes, I understand.
But to the sport hunters who want to kill just to have a 1600 lb bear in their living room...I just don't get it!


Angie said...

Hey Mryna, I understand where you're coming from and you're not the only person who feels that way. As someone who works in the tourism industry in Nunavut, I find that most people are not fully aware of how the whole process works. I'm not trying to change your opinion but it may help to know that even though sport hunters are paying big bucks to kill a polar bear for a trophy, the only thing that they actually keep is the head and the skin. The meat actually goes back to the local Hunters & Trappers Association where it either gets distributed to the local elders or it goes to a community feast. Polar Bear meat is a delicacy among the Inuit. So, none of the carcass is allowed to be left to waste - every part of the animal gets used. Plus there is only a limited number of polar bear tags issued every year, with only a small number going to sport hunts.

Angie said...

Oh, and just to add to that; there are very strict hunting regulations regarding polar bear hunts based on traditional Inuit knowledge. It may also ease your mind to know that these animals are not allowed to be chased down by any sort of motorized vehicle.

myrna_weblog said...

Thanks very much for the info. It's great to have your input especially since you're right in the middle of where all this happens.
It does ease my mind to know the meat isn't wasted during these sport hunts. And the article did say that the hunter has to literally "walk up" to the bear to make the kill.
Appreciate your comment very much.

Quirky Christa said...

I didn't know any of that....learn something new everyday