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Polar bear sightings on the rise in Arctic Canadian town

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

Officials in the community of Igloolik, in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, are discussing a long-term plan for polar bears after an unusually high number have been spotted.

They met with the Hunters and Trappers Association, the Department of Environment and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police last week to coordinate their response. There is now a list of three experienced people on call to respond if a polar bear is spotted near town.

Conservation Officer Jimmy Kennedy said regular patrols are also in effect by snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle and truck.

"Early in the morning, right at lunch, when everybody's returning after lunch, and then when the kids are being let out after school – there's good coverage of people patrolling the community to make sure there's no bears."

Last week, 14 bears were spotted near the hamlet. Four were killed and one was shot and wounded.

The hamlet's senior administrative officer, Brian Fleming, said they will be looking to communities like Arviat and Resolute Bay to devise a long-term plan to manage problem bears.

"You know, there's always been polar bear problems and stuff in Igloolik and across Nunavut as a whole," Fleming said. "But this particular year we just have a lot of polar bears."

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.