The ringed seal is a solitary animal. It moves great distances on its own, rather than in herds like the better-known harp seal. It’s uncommon to see more than one or two ringed seals together and they are often hidden under the ice or in the water. Wildlife biologists say this makes it difficult to estimate their numbers, though aerial strip census data and pup surveys show the ringed seal population at approximately 1.5-2 million. Since data from recent years hasn’t indicated scarcity, the current number harvested by Inuit, approximately 35,000 a year, is sustainable.
The hunting of seals and other wildlife in Nunavut is carefully monitored by the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board. The board relies on a blend of traditional Inuit knowledge and western science. Its activities are closely coordinated with those of federal authorities.