Can You Hunt Polar Bears? [Explained]

You can hunt polar bears with no penalty, and you can also get punished for hunting polar bears. There are two paths – legal hunting and illegal hunting. Legal hunting follows established rules and regulations. Meanwhile, illegal hunting (poaching) involves hunting without permission or outside the set rules. Most states, like Canada, permit both natives and non-natives to hunt polar bears.

Do you know that various treaties and agreements regulate the legality or illegality of hunting polar bears? These rules and regulations are strictly regulated at national and international levels for hunting or not hunting polar bears. Let’s find out why polar bears are hunted and whether hunting affects their population status.

Can You Hunt Polar Bears? Do Polar Bears Get Hunted?

Yes, we can hunt polar bears. And polar bears do get hunted every year. Hunting polar bears is regulated in many regions due to conservation concerns.

In some places, indigenous communities are allowed to hunt them for subsistence. However, commercial hunting of polar bears is generally prohibited to protect their populations.

How many polar bears are hunted every year?

According to Lioden, more than 53,500 polar bears were harvested between 1963 and 2016. According to these statistics, an average of 991 polar bears are hunted every year all over the world. The surveyor states that this is a number that is “crazy high”.

This statement means that polar bears are killed more as compared to their slow reproduction rate. The survey also shows devastating stats that fewer polar bears are left on Earth. And the chances are their population rate will decrease drastically if they are hunted at this pace. Probably 16,000 polar bears will be left by 2050. ~ Source

Why Is Polar Bear Hunting Allowed? Why Do People Hunt Polar Bears?

Polar Bear

Cultural, ecological, and regulatory factors play a substantial role in hunting polar bears. According to the report of the Polar Bears International organization, polar bear hunting is allowed for the following reasons:

1. Indigenous Subsistence & Cultural Heritage

Indigenous communities living near polar bear habitats rely on hunting polar bears. Their hunting purpose is sustenance. Not just this, they hunt these bears due to cultural and spiritual value. This act reinforced their connection to their ancestral lands.

2. Population Control

There are many regions in the Arctic where the population of polar bears is stable. That’s why regulated hunting helps manage their numbers. Plus, this helps to maintain a healthy and balanced ecosystem.

Important Note: In some cases, polar bears are involved in excessive predation. This ruthless behavior threatens the survival of other species. So, hunting polar bears helps manage this balance. Otherwise, other species that fall prey to polar bears will extinguish.

3. Scientific Research

Polar bear hunting is allowed for scientific research. It offers valuable data and specimens to study the behavior, genetics, and health of not just polar bears but also other species in the wild.

4. Conservation Funding

Revenue generated from hunting polar bears by giving permits and licenses is useful for funding conservation efforts. Habitat protection and wildlife management programs also get these funds for the betterment of society and wildlife.

5. Reduced Human-Wildlife Conflicts

Controlled hunting is allowed to reduce the potential for polar bears to come into close contact with locals and communities. It mitigates potential conflicts.

6. Management of Aggressive Behavior

Older polar bears are more aggressive than other young polar bears. This type of behavior often poses risks to humans and even younger bears. That’s why controlled hunting is permitted to address this issue.

7. Tourism Revenue

Travelers from all over the world visit Arctic regions to see these polar bears. Managed hunting attracts tourists interested in ethical and regulated wildlife experiences.

8. Cultural Use of Parts

In some Arctic areas, polar bears’ skin and bones are used for cultural and traditional purposes. For example, their skin and bones are used for clothing, tools, and art. It contributes to their way of life and heritage. So, managed hunting can provide access to these materials. ~ Source

How Do People Hunt Polar Bears?

It is important to consider that polar bear hunting has been practiced by various cultures for centuries. Inuit hunters use the following historical and traditional methods to hunt polar bears:

1. Harpoon Hunting

Harpoons are used to hunt polar bears. Indigenous communities use harpoons from kayaks or boats. Harpoons were first designed to penetrate the thick blubber of polar bears. It helps to immobilize the polar bear.

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2. Dog Teams

In various Arctic regions, licensed hunters use dog teams to track and corner polar bears. Trained dogs help them to keep a safe distance while also assisting the hunters to hunt easily. According to a study, knives were also used to hunt polar bears. But it’s not a common method. It has a lot of risks and challenges.

3. Stationary Hunting

This is also an effective method of hunting polar bears. The hunters take their position a few meters away from the polar bears and shoot them from a safe distance. They may stake out an area that polar bears frequently visit.

For example, polar bears are mostly seen near breathing holes in the ice. So, the hunter would wait for the polar bear to come out of their dens or to the surface to breathe. In a matter of seconds, the hunter takes the shot.

4. Traps and Snares

Ingenious traps and snares are often set to capture or hunt polar bears. When they step into them, they fall into the trap. However, these methods require careful planning and understanding of polar bear behavior.

5. Baited Traps

Here also comes the technique of baiting traps to hunt polar bears. Baited traps can attract polar bears with food. A mechanism to close the entrance is activated when a helpless polar bear enters the trap to retrieve food. In this way, the polar bears get caught in the cage.

Apart from the above-mentioned methods, modern firearms with advanced technology are used to hunt polar bears from a distance. Also, there are many regions where licensed guideline providers accompany hunters.

What Is the Most Popular Method of Hunting Polar Bears?

The most popular method of hunting polar bears is always evolving with the passage of time. It is also dependent on various cultural practices, legal regulations, and technological advancements.

Hence, the most popular method of hunting polar bears in history was “Harpoon Hunting”. However, “Guided Hunts” using firearms have become more prevalent in modern times. This drastic change is due to improved technology and accessibility.

Don’t miss watching this amazing YouTube documentary about hunting polar bears. In this video, a trophy hunter, Jan Guillou, shoots a polar bear with fascinating hunting skills.

Can We Hunt Polar Bears in Canada?

polar bear

Yes, you can hunt polar bears in Canada. According to the study of Animal Law, many states give permits to hunt polar bears. Mostly, these permits are given to native people. However, Canada not just allows the natives to hunt these beasts but also gives permits to non-natives to kill polar bears.

There are seven applicable jurisdictions in Canada. Six jurisdictions allow the hunting of polar bears. These jurisdictions include:

  • Yukon
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Northwest Territories

The majority of Arctic bears are harvested in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Monitiba is the one that restricts the killing of these white bears. The Canadian government also allows everyone to kill polar bears in self-defense. When someone’s or another’s life is in danger, it is permissible to kill them.

Fun Facts Time:

According to a survey, around 3.5 percent of the polar bears’ population is hunted annually in Canada. Canada is home to two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population. Every year, Canada hunts over 600 polar bears.

Why is Canada still stuck with our dead polar bears?

Canada is still stuck with dead polar bears because Canada is facing many challenges in managing the export of polar bear trophies. These trophies include skins and parts of polar bears. These trophies are obtained through legal hunting. The United States, for example, restricts the import of polar bear trophies.

This restriction is due to concerns about their conservation status. As a result, Canada has had difficulty finding buyers for these trophies. This situation highlights the complex issues surrounding polar bear conservation and international trade regulations.

What Are the Main Threats to Polar Bears?

Animal Legal And Historical Center states that many threats can pose a threat to the population of poor bears. If these threats are not decreased, the chances are that polar bears will be extinguished or completely eradicated from Earth. Laws are strictly applied in the five Arctic states to decrease the level of these threats. The report states the following main threats to polar bears:

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1. Development and Tourism Disturbance in Habitat

Development and tourism disturbances in the north are leading to habitat loss in the Arctic. Not just this, but marine traffic is also an increasing hazard for white bears. Tourism is especially destroying and disrupting habitat in the Arctic.

However, governments create parks in order to prevent development. Also, governments can seek out the negative impacts of tourism and development in Arctic regions. They can:

  • Limit the areas where tourists can go.
  • Limit the activities that they can do.
  • Provide proper guidelines in case a polar bear confronts them about how to tackle these situations.

All these rules set by governments can reduce tourism and development threats.

2. Hunting and Self-Defense Killing

If we talk about the second most important threat to polar bears, it is hunting and self-defense killing. Generally speaking, these bears are hunted for various reasons, like:

  • For food
  • For making pelts
  • For making clothes
  • Handicrafts
  • In defensive mechanisms

Last but not least, polar bear hunting is allowed but enacted by a few laws. For example, setting rules on the exact number of polar bears hunted every year and restricting the hunting to a specific sex or age limit.

3. Climate Change

Climate change is the most concerning threat to the population of polar bears. Their habitat is quietly and quickly disappearing due to the current trends of melting ice and seasonal changes. So, polar bears are facing major difficulties in searching for suitable places for finding prey and making dens.

According to the Animal Law report, many states are adopting various tools and agreements. For instance, laws that limit vehicle emissions are useful tools, and the Kyoto Protocol is a fantastic agreement.

4. Oil Spills

Are oil spills a problem for Arctic bears? We know that polar bears love to swim. However, the oil spills have poisoned the Arctic’s water supply. In this case, they mostly lick their bodies and ingest the spilled oil.

Consequently, they become ill and then die after a few health problems caused by oil spills. However, many protocols are responsible for refining oil spills.

5. Pollution

The pollutants that come out of industry and cars are causing health issues in polar bears. They are even dying due to these pollutants. In fact, pollution is the problem of the entire Earth.

The more difficult part is implying their regulations. Still, treaties and agreements are regulated annually nationally and internationally.

6. Cannibalism

According to various studies conducted in the past, cannibalism is not a common threat to the population of polar bears. However, it happens.

So, it also has an impact on the decline in their population. Interestingly, cannibalism can’t be controlled with the help of any law or legislation.

7. Capture for Public Display in Zoos

Polar bears are displayed in zoos and parks. People capture them to earn money in zoos and for entertainment and amusement purposes. Inevitably, it leads to the population decline of polar bears.

The legislation passed governing the capturing of Arctic bears for public display applies the following laws:

  • Limits the number of people who can take these bears for public display.
  • Limits the number of bears to be taken from their natural habitat.
  • Endurance of better quality of life and care of polar bears in captivity.

How To Protect Polar Bears from Hunting?

polar bear

Protecting polar bears from hunting involves the following measures:

  • Combination of conservation efforts
  • Impose International agreements.
  • Enforcement of strict hunting regulations
  • Monitoring and managing polar bear populations
  • Collaborating with local communities
  • Advocating for stronger international protection through organizations like the IUCN and CITES
  • Promote Ecotourism by developing sustainable ecotourism programs.
  • Support anti-poaching initiatives.
  • Designate protected areas and marine reserves.

Above all, education and public awareness campaigns can also help reduce demand for polar bear products. It also promotes sustainable coexistence.

Can You Kill a Polar Bear with A Gun?

Yes, you can kill a killer polar bear with a gun if you are trying to defend yourself or anyone else. Remember, killing a polar bear is a last resort to protect human life. Your first step should be to stay away from or step back from these powerful predators.

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Otherwise, these bears can kill you, especially in situations where they perceive humans as a potential source of food. In such cases, you can use a firearm to deter or stop an attacking polar bear. Also, always follow local laws, regulations, and guidelines for responsible guideline management.

Many people ask which gun can kill a polar bear in cases of legal hunting or self-defense. Many larger caliber firearms are mostly recommended for these cases. For example, rifles chambered in the following cartridges are the best of all: ~ Source

  • .375 H&H Magnum
  • .338 Winchester Magnum
  • .416 Remington Magnum
  • .458 Lott

These firearms are best to deliver the necessary stopping power to stop a polar bear. However, proper training in using guns and knowledge of polar bears’ behavior is also very important to self-defense.


Can you hunt polar bears in Russia?

No, you cannot hunt polar bears in Russia. The Russian government has declared these species of bears “Endangered.” So, the government has also banned their hunting. Poaching could result in strict action against poachers.

Here is a complete document given by the Russian government on the forum of the Polar Bears Agreement. It clearly states the areas where polar bears are found and are strictly protected under various laws.

Do polar bears get hunted in the US?

No, polar bears do not get hunted in the U.S. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Federation, both Acts, ESA (Endangered Species Act) and MMPA (Marine Mammal Protection Act) have strictly prohibited hunting polar bears unless you have authorization or if it’s a case of human safety (self-defense). According to these regulations and acts, the population of polar bears is threatened. That’s why it’s not allowed to hunt these Arctic bears.

Do polar bears get hunted in Alaska?

No, polar bears do not get hunted in Alaska. It’s totally illegal, and the people of Alaska and the government strictly condemn it. However, there is flexibility in Alaskan Law. It permits the natives to hunt polar bears, but for some valid reasons. But the laws do not tolerate the wasteful killing or unwanted hunting of these bears.

Do polar bears get hunted in Labrador?

Yes, polar bears do get hunted in Labrador. Newfoundland and Labrador is a region where the hunting of polar bears is regulated by provincial and territorial legislation. Remember, only indigenous communities are granted permission to hunt white bears for cultural and subsistence purposes. Established guidelines and quotas are properly followed to ensure sustainable and responsible management of the polar bear population.

Can I kill a polar bear if it attacks me?

Yes, you can kill a polar bear if it attacks you. It is fine to kill polar bears in self-defense. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, you should fight back in case a polar bear attacks you. You should not “play dead” if other lethal efforts fail to work. Instead of risking your life, attack back with the help of any object available. Target the faces of polar bears, especially their noses and eyes.

How much does it cost to hunt a polar bear?

It costs $10,000 to $30,000 to hunt a polar bear. The cost may vary depending on the laws, areas, and regulatory factors. The cost is divided into the following depending on their roles, designations, and efforts:

  • Inuit guides who lead the team and hunt polar bears
  • Individuals who are responsible for cleaning the hide
  • The owner of the dog team, and so on.

The cost can vary significantly. It is also dependent on factors such as outfitter fees, permits, travel expenses, and accommodations.


Are polar bears endangered due to hunting? They are vulnerable. Although hunting is one of the major factors affecting polar bears population, many other reasons (like climate change and habitat loss) are causing a decline in the growth rate of polar bears. According to various scientists, one of the four quarters of the population of polar bears is in danger due to hunting.

Why do you think hunting polar bears should be allowed? Should polar bear hunting be illegal? What are your views on this topic? Kindly share your suggestions with us in the comments section and your reasons.

Thank you for taking the precious time to read this article!

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