Polar bear

Polar bear with its young. Photo: Ø. Wiig.

Ursus maritimus

Polar bear sample collection

Hunters obliged to collect samples from Polar bears

After January 1st 2012 all hunters in Greenland are obliged by decision of the Ministry for Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture, to take a small sample of the tongue and a small tooth from all Polar Bears brought down. The samples are a very important tool in the efforts to keep our agreements about the joint management of the population of Polar Bears shared with Canada/Nunavut. The goal is to secure make sure the hunt is sustainable.

The tooth shows the polar bears age and the overall age distribution in the population can tell of the conditions of the whole population. The sample from the tongue will be used for DNA tests to establish how the different polar bear populations are connected. The tests will also be included in estimates of the number of polar bears in the Baffin Bay and Kane Basin populations, which Greenland share with Nunavut.

Polar bear on the sea ice. Photo: L. M. Rasmussen.


Greenland Institute of Natural Resources has sent out test tubes and a leaflet in Danish and Greenlandic to the hunters containing information on how to take the samples.

Fig. 1: the hunters are obliged to take a sample of the tongue tissue and secure a small tooth situated behind each canine tooth


Fig. 2: Cut a small piece of tip of the tongue (about 1 x 0.5 cm)


Fig. 3: Secure one of the small tooth situated behind each canine tooth.


Fig. 4: The small tooth


Fig. 5: Put the tooth and tongue samples in the test tube and hand it to the local government office.


For further information contact Greenland Institute of Natural Resources on info@natur.gl