WWF and hunting in the Arctic
26 April 2018
For thousands of years, Arctic Indigenous peoples have hunted animals for food, clothing, and other essential uses.
Hunting is still part of the cultural identity of many northern peoples, and for some, still an essential part of their livelihoods. People still hunt because other foods available to people in northern communities are often less healthy than traditional foods, and too expensive for people to buy.
WWF recognizes and respects the rights of Indigenous peoples (for instance, we support the UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples). One of those rights (Article 32) states: “Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.”
As a conservation organization, WWF seeks to conserve populations of wild animals. We want to make sure that species survive in places where they have always been. It is rare that our conservation mission comes into conflict with our respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Arctic. For the most part, that is because Indigenous peoples have a similar conservation ethic. They do not want populations of animals on which they rely to diminish. In several parts of the Arctic, local boards set up between Indigenous peoples and governments set quotas for how many animals can be hunted sustainably, based on local information and scientific data on the health of local populations of those animals.
Since actions were taken to manage or limit commercial hunting in the Arctic, populations of many Arctic species have rebounded. The greatest threat to the continued health of those populations is not Indigenous hunting, but climate change.
Taking all of these things into account, WWF does not oppose hunting in the Arctic, unless we believe, based on the best available knowledge, that it is threatening the local population of a species.