Foxe Basin (FB)

Recent abundance estimate of 2585 (95% CI: 2096-3189) from 2012 based on aerial survey.

Status table outtake

Size Sea ice metrics Human-caused removals 2010–2014
Estimate /
95% CI
Year Method Change in spring ice retreat / Change in fall ice advance (days per decade) Change in summer sea ice area (percent change per decade) 5-yr mean Last year
Potential Actual Potential Actual
2009-10Physical capture-recapture AND Distance sampling-5.3/5.8-14.2101.4106.2130114
See also the complete table (all subpopulations)

Comments, vulnerabilities and concerns

There are no estimates of vital rates. Harvest appears to be sustainable.

Status and delineation

Foxe Basin subpopulation mapThe Foxe Basin area. See also the complete map (all subpopulations).

Based on decades of mark-recapture studies and satellite tracking of female bears in Western Hudson Bay (WH) and Southern Hudson Bay (SH), the Foxe Basin subpopulation appears to occur in Foxe Basin, northern Hudson Bay, and the western end of Hudson Strait (Taylor and Lee 1995; Sahanatien et al. 2015). The most recent mapping of satellite telemetry data indicates substantial overlap with the WH and SH subpopulations and, to a lesser extent, with DS (Peacock et al. 2010; Sahanatien et al. 2015). During the ice-free season, polar bears are concentrated on Southampton Island and along the Wager Bay coast; however, significant numbers of bears are also encountered on the islands and coastal regions throughout the Foxe Basin area (Stapleton et al. 2015). A total subpopulation estimate of 2,197 ± 260 for 1994 was developed (Taylor et al. 2006) from a mark-recapture analysis based on tetracycline biomarkers where the marking effort was conducted during the ice-free season, and distributed throughout the entire area. TEK suggested the subpopulation of polar bears had increased (GN consultations in villages in Foxe Basin 2004 – 2012). During a comprehensive summertime aerial survey in 2009 and 2010 (based on distance sampling and double-observer estimation) covering about 40,000 km each year, 816 and 1003 bears were observed, respectively (Stapleton et al. 2016). This most recent study yielded an abundance estimate of 2585 (95% CI: 2096 – 3189) polar bears (Stapleton et al. 2016), which is not statistically different from the 1994 estimate indicating a stable population. Sea ice habitat for polar bears has decreased substantially for polar bears over the last several decades in FB (Sahanatien and Derocher 2012).


Peacock, E., Derocher, A.E., Lunn, N.J., and Obbard, M.E. 2010. Polar bear ecology and management in Hudson Bay in the face of climate change. Pages 93-115 in Ferguson S. H., Loseto L. L., Mallory M. L., eds. A little less Arctic: Top predators in the world's largest northern inland sea, Hudson Bay. London: Springer.

Sahanatien, V. and Derocher, A. E. 2012. Monitoring sea ice habitat fragmentation for polar bear conservation. Animal Conservation doi :10.1111/j.1469-175.2012.00529.

Sahanatien V, Peacock E, Derocher AE. 2015. Population substructure and space use of Foxe Basin polar bears. Ecology and Evolution 5 (14):2851-2864. doi:10.1002/ece3.1571

Stapleton S, Peacock E, Garshelis D. 2015. Aerial surveys suggest long-term stability in the seasonally ice-free Foxe Basin (Nunavut) polar bear population. Marine Mammal Science 32 (1):181-201. doi:10.1111/mms.12251

Taylor, M.K., Lee, J., Laake, J. and McLoughlin, P.D. 2006. Estimating population size of polar bears in Foxe Basin, Nunavut using tetracycline biomarkers. File Report, Department of Environment, Government of Nunavut. Igloolik, Nunavut, Canada. 13 pp.