M'Clintock Channel (MC)

Population estimate of 284 polar bears, based on mark-recapture work completed in 2000. There is low harvest, and the population is thought to be increasing from reduced numbers.

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-3.9/5.8-
See also the complete table (all subpopulations)

Comments, vulnerabilities and concerns

New reassessment of subpopulation began in 2014; potential for shipping activities . Population is currently managed for recovery with harvest below sustainable rates.

Status and delineation

M'Clintock Channel subpopulation mapThe M'Clintock Channel area. See also the complete map (all subpopulations).

The current population boundaries for the M’Clintock Channel (MC) subpopulation are based on recovery of tagged bears, movements of adult females with satellite radio-collars in adjacent areas (Taylor and Lee 1995, Taylor et al. 2001), and genetics (Paetkau et al. 1999; Campagna et al. 2013; Peacock et al. 2015, Malenfant et al. 2016). These boundaries appear to be a consequence of large islands to the east and west, the mainland to the south, and the multiyear ice in Viscount Melville Sound to the north. An estimate of 900 bears was derived from a 6-year study in the mid-1970s within the boundaries proposed for the MC subpopulation, as part of a study conducted over a larger area of the central Arctic (Furnell and Schweinsburg 1984). Following the completion of a mark-recapture inventory in spring 2000, the subpopulation was estimated to number 284 ± 59.3 (Taylor et al. 2006). Natural survival and recruitment rates were estimated at values lower than previous standardized estimates (Taylor et al. 1987). As a consequence of the reduced population abundance, and after an initial harvest moratorium, harvest levels for MC were drastically reduced to levels that should allow the population to recover and increase. A 3 year genetic mark-recapture study began in 2014.

As with habitat in GB, Barber and Iacozza (2004) found no trends in ringed seal habitat or sea ice condition from 1980 to 2000 for MC. A general trend has been detected for earlier break-up and delayed freeze-up (Stern and Laidre 2016; Markus et al. 2009), but multiyear ice is predicted to persist into the near future (Sou and Flato 2009; Maslanik et al. 2011; Howell et al. 2008). Habitat quality could be improved over the short-term and multi-year ice declines.


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.

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.

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.

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., Laake, J., McLoughlin, P.D., Cluff, H.D. and Messier, F. 2006. Demographic parameters and harvest-explicit population viability analysis for polar bears in M'Clintock Channel, Nunavut, Canada. J. Wildl. Manage. 70:1667-1673.

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.