Gulf of Boothia (GB)

A mark-recapture study was completed in 2000 and the estimated population size was 1,600 bears at that time. Numbers are dated, but new 3-year stduy began in 2015.

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
2000Physical capture-recapture-6.9/8.3-12.263.4607467
See also the complete table (all subpopulations)

Comments, vulnerabilities and concerns

Ongoing population assessment

Status and delineation

Gulf of Boothia subpopulation mapThe Gulf of Boothia area. See also the complete map (all subpopulations).

The boundaries of the Gulf of Boothia subpopulation are based on genetic studies (Paetkau et al. 1999, Campagna et al. 2013, Peacock et al. 2015, Malenfant et al. 2016), movements of tagged bears (Stirling et al. 1978, Taylor and Lee 1995), radio telemetry in GB and adjacent areas (Taylor et al. 2001), and interpretations by local Inuit hunters of how local conditions influence the movements of polar bears in the area. GB belongs in the Canadian Archipelago global genetic cluster (Peacock et al. 2015). An initial subpopulation estimate of 333 bears was derived from the data collected within the boundaries proposed for GB, as part of a study conducted over a larger area of the central Arctic (Furnell and Schweinsburg 1984). Although population data from this area were limited, local hunters reported that numbers remained constant or increased since the time of the central Arctic polar bear survey. Based on TEK, recognition of sampling deficiencies, and polar bear densities in other areas, an interim subpopulation estimate of 900 was established in the 1990s. Following the completion of a mark-recapture inventory in spring 2000, the subpopulation was estimated to number 1,592 ± 361 bears (Taylor et al. 2009). Natural survival and recruitment rates were estimated at values higher than the previous standardized estimates (Taylor et al. 1987). Taylor et al. (2009) concluded that the subpopulation was increasing in 2000, as a result of high intrinsic rate of growth and low harvest. Harvest rates were increased in 2005 based on the 2000 population estimate and the population was believed to be stable. A three year (genetic mark-recapture) population inventory study began in spring of 2015.


Barber, D. G. and Iacozza. J. 2004. Historical analysis of sea ice conditions in M'Clintock channel and the Gulf of Boothia, Nunavut: Implications for ringed seal and polar bear habitat. Arctic 57:1-14.

Campagna, L., Van Coeverden de Groot, P. J., Saunders, B. L., Atkinson, S. N, Weber, D. S., Dyck, M. G., Boag, P. T and Lougheed S. C. 2013. Extensive sampling of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in the Northwest Passage (Canadian Arctic Archipelago) reveals population differentiation across multiple spatial and temporal scales. Ecol. Evol., doi:10.1002/ece3.662.

Furnell, D. J. and Schweinsburg, R. E. 1984. Population-dynamics of central Canadian actic island polar bears. J.Wildl.Manage. 48:722-728.

Howell, S. E. L., Tivy, A., Yackel, J. J. and McCourt S. 2008. Multi-year sea-ice conditions in the Western Canadian Arctic Archipelago region of the Northwest Passage: 1968-2006. Atmosphere-Ocean, 46:229-242.

Keith, D., Arqvik, J., Kamookak, L. and Ameralik, J. 2005. Inuit Qaujimaningit Nanurnut: Inuit Knowledge of Polar Bears. Gjoa Haven Hunters and Trappers and CCI Press, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Malenfant, R.M., Davis, C.S., Cullingham, C.I., Coltman, D.W. 2016 Circumpoalr genetic structure and recent gene flow of polar bears: A reanalysis. Plos One 11(3): e0148967. Doi: 10.1371/journal. Pone.0148967.

Markus, T., Stroeve, J. C. and Miller J. 2009. Recent changes in Arctic sea ice melt onset, freezeup, and melt season length. J. Geophys. Res. 114:C12024, doi:10.1029/2009JC005436.

Maslanik, J., Stroeve, J., Fowler, C. and Emery W. 2011. Distribution and trends in Arctic sea ice through spring 2011. Geophys. Res. Letters 38:L13502, doi:10.1029/2011GL047735.

Paetkau, D., Amstrup, S.C., Born, E.W., Calvert, W., Derocher, A.E., Garner, G.W., Messier, F., Stirling, I., Taylor, M. K., Wiig, Ø. and Strobeck, C.1999. Genetic structure of the world's polar bear populations. Molec. Eco. 8:1571-1584.

Peacock, E., Sonsthagen, S.A., Obbard, M.E., Boltunov, A., Regehr, E.V., Ovsyanikov, N., Aars, J., Atkinson, S.N., Sage, G.K., Hope, A.G., Zeyl, E., Bachmann, L., Ehrich, D., Scribner, K.T., Amstrup, S.C., Belikov, S., Born, E., Derocher, A.E., Stirling, I., Taylor, M.K., Wiig, Ø., Paetkau, D., and Talbot, S.L. 2015. Implications of the circumpolar genetic structure of polar bears for their conservation in a rapidly warming Arctic. Plos One 10: e112021.

Sou, T. and Flato G. 2009. Sea ice in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago: modeling the past (1950-2004) and the future (2041-60). J. Climate 22:2181-2198.

Stirling, I., Schweinsburg, R.E., Calvert, W. and Killian, H.P.L. 1978. Population ecology studies of the polar bear along the proposed Arctic Islands Gas Pipeline Route, Final Report. Environmental Management Service, Department of Environment, Alberta, Canada. 93 pp.

Taylor, M.K. and Lee J. 1995. Distribution and abundance of Canadian polar bear populations - a management perspective. Arctic 48:147-154.

Taylor, M.K., Akeeagok, S., Andriashek, D., Barbour, W., Born, E.W., Calvert, W., Cluff, H.D., Ferguson, S., Laake, J., Rosing-Asvid, A., Stirling, I. and Messier, F. 2001. Delineating Canadian and Greenland polar bear (Ursus maritimus) populations by cluster analysis of movements. Can. J. Zool. 79:690-709.

Taylor, M.K., DeMaster, D.P., Bunnell, F.L. and Schweinsburg, R.E. 1987. Modeling the sustainable harvest of polar bears. J. Wild. Manage. 51:811-820.

Taylor, M.K., Laake, J., McLoughlin, P.D., Cluff, H.D. and Messier, F. 2009. Demography and population viability of polar bears in the Gulf of Boothia, Nunavut. Mar. Mamm. Sci. 25:778-796.