Narwhal (Monodon monoceros) COSEWIC assessment and status report: chapter 1

Assessment Summary

Assessment Summary – November 2004

Common name: Narwhal

Scientific name: Monodon Monoceros

Status: Special Concern

Reason for designation: The Baffin Bay population appears to be large (~45,000), although there is uncertainty about numbers, trends, life history parameters, and levels of sustainable hunting. There is similar uncertainty about the much smaller Hudson Bay population (~2,100 mature individuals). Hunting for maktak and the commercially valuable tusk ivory represents the most consistent threat to narwhals. Potential effects of changes in ice coverage caused by climate trends are unknown. The Hudson Bay population could decline by 30% in 30 years if hunting is not closely regulated. Similarly, the Baffin Bay population could be affected if hunting in Greenland is not effectively managed. Numbers removed by hunting increased during the 1990s. Community-based management is monitoring hunting and is attempting to regulate removals.  Reliable information about numbers that are killed and not recovered is difficult to obtain.

Occurrence: Arctic Ocean

Status history: Designated Not at Risk in April 1986 and April 1987. Status re-examined and designated Special Concern in November 2004. Last assessment based on an update status report.

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