Viscount Melville Sound (VM)

The most recent inventory was completed in 1992; at that time the population was estimated to be 160 polar bears. Current population size and status is unknown. New M-R estimate is expected in 2017.

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
1992Physical capture-recapture-4.7/7.4-
See also the complete table (all subpopulations)

Comments, vulnerabilities and concerns

Low densities of ringed seals and polar bears were observed during capture-recapture programs (2012-2014). Field program to estimate abundance completed 2014, final report not yet available.

Status and delineation

Viscount Melville Sound subpopulation mapThe Viscount Melville Sound area. See also the complete map (all subpopulations).

A five-year study of movements and subpopulation size, using telemetry and mark-recapture, was completed for polar bears inhabiting Viscount Melville Sound (VM) in 1992 (Messier et al. 1992, 1994, Taylor et al. 2002). Population boundaries were based on observed movements of female polar bears with satellite radio-collars and movements of bears tagged in and out of the study area (Bethke et al. 1996, Taylor et al. 2001). The most recent subpopulation estimate of 161 ± 40 (1992) (Taylor et al. 2002) is 25 years old and the PBSG now regards VM as a data deficient subpopulation. However, in spring 2014, the field component of a mark-recapture study to re-assess abundance and status of the VM subpopulation was completed; the results are not yet available.


Bethke, R., Taylor, M., Amstrup, S., and Messier, F. 1996. Population delineation of polar bears using satellite collar data. Ecological Applications 6:311-317.

Messier, F., Taylor, M.K., and Ramsay, M.A. 1992. Seasonal activity patterns of female polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in the Canadian arctic as revealed by satellite telemetry. J. Zool., Lond. 226:219-229.

Messier, F., Taylor, M.K., and Ramsay, M.A. 1994. Denning ecology of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic archipelago. Journal of Mammalogy 75:420-430.

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. Canadian Journal of Zoology 79:690-709.

Taylor, M.K., Laake, J., Cluff, H.D., Ramsay, M., and Messier, F. 2002. Managing the risk from hunting for the Viscount Melville Sound polar bear population. Ursus 13:185-202.