MLAs Cathy Towtongie and John Main are appealing to Environment Minister Joe Savikataaq to improve tracking of caribou sales among Kivalliq hunters.
Main said the Department of Environment indicated that harvesters can fetch between $300 to $1,000 per caribou.
“It is worrisome just looking at those numbers,” said Main, MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove. “Although I know that those who sell caribou to different communities are not breaking the law, as they have the right, it is a concern by other hunters and older people as well. They have told me that it is a worrisome matter. They are seeing caribou as cash.”
Towtongie called for a formalized system for sales.
“I am not blaming the hunters who are selling on the internet, but they need a proper structure to sell and a proper model so we do not decimate caribou herds,” Towtongie, the MLA for Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet, said in the legislative assembly on Thursday.
Savikataaq replied that land claims give Inuit an “absolute” right to sell caribou meat and the GN cannot infringe on that.
“The government has to respect the Nunavut land claims,” he said.
Towtongie, who also raised this issue last June, again expressed concern for the long-term health of the animals.
“Selling of caribou has to be structured in a way so future generations can have sustainable caribou… (hunters) also have to have an economic income. That’s alright, but there has to be monitoring and control,” she said.
Savikataaq said there’s not enough information to indicate that the Qamanirjuaq herd needs a total allowable harvest. However he described it as a “very complex issue” because the herd is also hunted by Dene in the NWT, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Main mentioned on Tuesday that the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management
Board has been working on a harvest reporting project with Kivalliq hunters and trappers organizations.
“I note in the recent newsletter that they achieved great success in Arviat and they particularly thanked HTO board chair Thomas Alikashuak and the involved staff,” he said.