In 1998, the population size was estimated to be 2,074. A 2004 estimate of less than 1,600 bears was simulated from birth and death rates estimated in 1998 and harvest rates from Greenland and Canada. On-going re-assessment, new estimate expected by the end of 2014.
Status table outtake
Status and delineation
Based on the movements of adult females with satellite radio-collars and recaptures of tagged animals, the Baffin Bay (BB) subpopulation of polar bears is bounded by the North Water Polynya to the north, Greenland to the east and Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada to the west (Taylor and Lee 1995, Taylor et al. 2001, Laidre et al. 2012). A distinct southern boundary at Cape Dyer, Baffin Island, is evident from the movements of tagged bears (Stirling et al. 1980; Peacock et al. 2012) and from polar bears monitored by satellite telemetry (Taylor et al. 2001). This boundary overlaps with the northern boundary of the Davis Strait subpopulation. Studies of microsatellite genetic variation have not revealed significant differences between polar bears in BB and neighboring Kane Basin, although there was significant genetic variation between polar bears in BB and those in Davis Strait (Paetkau et al. 1999; Peacock et al. 2015). However, polar bears in northern Davis Strait cluster with BB and Kane Basin bears with polar bears from the Canadian Archipelago proper into the Canadian Archipelago genetic cluster (Peacock et al. 2015 ). An initial subpopulation estimate of 300 – 600 bears was based on mark-recapture data collected in spring (1984 – 1989) in which the capture effort was restricted to shore-fast ice and the floe edge off northeast Baffin Island. However, work in the early 1990’s showed that an unknown proportion of the subpopulation is typically offshore during the spring and, therefore, unavailable for capture. A second study (1993 – 1997) was carried out during September and October, when all polar bears were ashore in summer retreat areas on Bylot and Baffin islands (Taylor et al. 2005). Taylor et al. (2005) estimated the number of polar bears in BB at 2,074 ± 226 (SE). The most recent (2004) abundance estimate was estimated to be 1,600 bears by Taylor et al. (2005) based on simulations using vital rates from the 1993-1997 capture study and pooled Canadian and Greenland harvest records up to 2004. This abundance estimate presented to the Joint Commission under the Greenland and Canada MOU, is recognized as being out of date and current status in BB is unclear. The sub-population is currently undergoing re-assessment and a new abundance estimate is expected by the end of 2015.
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