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Search called off for missing hunter

George Putulik overdue since Dec. 2

The search for a missing hunter in Naujaat has been called off.

After leaving to hunt seals at the floe edge with a skidoo and boat, George Putulik was reported overdue Dec. 2.

Community members alerted the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Trenton, which joined the local search and rescue members in their efforts to locate the hunter.

“At 0500 Zulu on Dec. 3, the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre Trenton launched a C-130 Hercules (helicopter) from the RCAF 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron to conduct a search of the area which the hunter was believed to have been in,” said Trevor Reid, senior public affairs officer with the 1 Canadian Air Division.

“That particular search was challenged by very poor weather conditions – strong winds, low clouds and snow unfortunately.”

JRCC Trenton also tasked a CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopter from the 442 Transfer and Rescue Squadron to join in the mission, and members of the Naujaat community aided in the search.

On Dec. 4 and 5, the Cormorant searched for a combined 11 hours in a whitehout.

“It was not very favourable to search conditions,” said Reid. “Unfortunately, on Sunday Dec. 5 at 2000 Zulu, after consideration of exposure models and with no sign of the missing hunter, the JRCC Trenton made the very difficult decision to transfer the case to the RCMP as a missing person.”

That decision was based on survival models, which take into consideration water and air temperature, meteorological conditions, what survival gear the missing person was reported to have and other factors to calculate the likelihood of survival.

“Our thoughts are with the family of the missing hunter at this difficult time, and we thank those members of Naujaat for their efforts in the surface search,” said Reid.

Local searchers continued their efforts in the days following, but on Dec. 15, the search was called off, Naujaat Search and Rescue member Albert Amautinuar confirmed to Kivalliq News.