If not, don’t worry. Apparently Canadian authorities don’t either. Outgoing Environment Minister Catherine McKenna decided to reduce the number of polar bears the Inuit can hunt in Nunavik, in northern Quebec, despite their claim that from living on the land they knew there were lots. Now a judge has ruled that all that stuff about the wisdom of the ancestors was just virtue-signaling with forked tongue and that when it matters Eurocentric science elbows the ancestors aside. Which is ironic since even Eurocentric science actually says polar bears are flourishing, even if saying so out loud did get Susan Crockford fired.
The back story is that the Makivik Corporation, which represents the Inuit of Nunavik in legal matters, launched a suit in 2016 saying “By and large, Nunavik residents have observed an increase in the polar bear population, and a particularly notable increase since the 1980s.” Despite which Stephen Harper’s environment minister, Peter Kent, had written to the local wildlife board in 2012 asking them to establish the first-ever quota to limit hunting of the big white cute really scary grizzly bears. (Yes, polar bears are a subspecies of grizzlies.) The board, charged with melding western and traditional ways of thinking, ended up establishing a quota of 28 which the federal and Nunavut governments both rejected, annoying the board, which said the federal decision “clearly disregards the extensive body of Inuit traditional knowledge” relying instead “solely on the scientific population estimate.”
Catherine McKenna then cut the quota to 23, prompting Makavik to accuse her of setting “aside entirely the Inuit traditional knowledge” and failing “to even attempt the integration of the two systems of knowledge.” Not that anyone ever said what to do if they seemed to disagree.
The government of course oozed the usual rhetoric about their great respect for Inuit knowledge and claimed the quota was actually above the sustainable harvest rate of 4.5% if the numbers were as western science claimed. And a Federal Court just upheld the decision, though calling for “better communication”, while a spokesman for the minister said “Indigenous peoples are key partners in conserving and protecting nature, and we recognize their unique perspectives, knowledge, rights and responsibilities that can improve conservation outcomes”. But when they say there are so many bears it’s dangerous, well, our global warming computer model says there aren’t and since we’re in Ottawa we’re not worried if we’re wrong.