Kane Basin (KB)

A small subpopulation of approximately 150 polar bears, estimated in 1997. Harvest is thought to be unsustainable, and the population declining.

Status table outtake

Size Trend Sea ice metrics Human-caused removals 2010–2014
Estimate /
95% CI
Year Method Relative to historic level
(approx. 25-yr past)
Current (approx. 12-yr
period centered on present)
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
1994-1997Physical capture-recaptureData deficientDeclining-7.2/5.6-12.2116115
See also the complete table (all subpopulations)

Comments, vulnerabilities and concerns

Harvest, current and projected habitat decline. 100% of PVA runs resulted in decline after 10 years. Subpopulation is currently being re-assessed using genetic capture-recapture. TEK suggests increase in numbers.

Status and delineation

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

Based on the movements of adult females with satellite collars and recaptures of tagged animals, the boundaries of the Kane Basin (KB) subpopulation include the North Water Polynya to the south, the Kennedy Channel to the north and Greenland and Ellesmere Island to the east and west (Taylor et al. 2001). Polar bears in KB do not differ genetically from those in Baffin Bay (Paetkau et al. 1999). The size of the subpopulation was most recently estimated to be 164 ± 35 (SE) for 1994 – 1997 by Taylor et al. (2008). The intrinsic natural rate of growth for KB polar bears was estimated to be low at 1.009 (SE, 0.010) (Taylor et al. 2008), likely because of large expanses of multi-year ice and low population density of seals (Born et al. 2004). Taylor et al. (2008) suggested that KB might act as a sink because of unsustainable rates of harvest, relatively unproductive habitat, and lack of genetic differentiation with BB. The sub-population is currently undergoing re-assessment and a new abundance estimate is expected by the end of 2015.


Born, E.W., Teilmann, J., Acquarone, M. and Rigét, F. F. 2004. Habitat use of ringed seals (Phoca hispida) in the North Water area (North Baffin Bay). Arctic 57:129–142.

Canadian Wildlife Service Nunavut Consultation Report 2009.

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. Molecular Ecology 8: 1571–1584.

Taylor, M.K., Akeeagok, S., Andriashek, D., Barbour, W., Born, E.W., Calvert, W., Dean Cluff, H., 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., Laake, J., McLoughlin, P.D., Cluff, H.D., Born, E.W., Rosing-Asvid, A., and Messier, F. 2008. Population parameters and harvest risks for polar bears (Ursus maritimus) of Kane Basin, Canada and Greenland. Polar Biology 31: 491–499.