IQALUIT, Canada — Doomsday predictions of the polar bear's demise tend to draw an Inuit guffaw here in Nunavut, the remote Arctic territory where polar bears in some places outnumber people.
People will tell you about the polar bear that strode brazenly past the dump a month ago or the bear that attacked a dog team in the town of Arviat in November. Heart-rending pictures of polar bears clinging to tiny islands of ice elicit nothing but derision....An estimated 77% of the world trade in polar bear parts in recent years came from about 500 bears a year killed in Canada, 300 of which typically enter the international market, according to a review by the Humane Society of the United States and Canadian officials.
Not all conservation groups are pushing for such a move. The World Wildlife Fund, for example, has said the international trade is "not currently a significant threat" to the species. Many Inuit elders here say the bears face bigger threats from biologists bent on relentlessly studying the bears than from hunters with rifles.
"You see people teasing them with a helicopter, targeting them with darts. It really bothers me — makes me puke," said Lew Philip, 65, who killed his first polar bear at the age of 8. Now, he hunts about four polar bears a year with his sons.
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