Kivalliq MLAs are once again voicing concerns over sales of caribou meat that they say could do lasting harm to the Kivalliq region’s treasured herds.
Patterk Netser and Cathy Towtongie both spoke of pressures on the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou herds, which is hunted not only by harvesters from Nunavut, but also from the Northwest Territories, Manitoba and Nunavut.
“Caribou in the Kivalliq are in a crisis. A lot of it is due to overhunting and internet sales … There is currently no control of the sale of the meat, and some individuals will sell caribou online at a very expensive price. It is like $400 to $600 per caribou. I want to support hunters that hunt properly, but then there seem to be many other people who just kill caribou and leave it behind,” Towtongie, MLA for Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet, said in the legislative assembly on Friday. “Additionally, sometimes we can see caribou that has been hunted and just thrown away because they don’t have any fat. They just get left behind. They just get the tongue, and that is not the traditional Inuit way. We have to think of ways to teach the younger generation of hunters how they can skin the caribou properly, and what uses there are for different parts of the caribou; for example, clothing.”
Netser said he’s hearing from residents who are telling him action needs to be taken to protect the caribou.
“That it is becoming very worrisome because Coral Harbour is on an island, and although its a big island, it is becoming worrisome people are selling caribou from that herd too. We are getting worried about them. My constituents keep calling me about it, saying that we need to do something about it,” said Netser, Aivilik MLA. “Within the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, it states that any Inuk can sell caribou. However, if we want our future generations to have wildlife to hunt, then we have to start doing something about it now. It’s getting very worrisome. So I encourage our minister to sit with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and have meetings about it. It would be good if they could do that before we run out of caribou.”
Baker Lake MLA Craig Simailak asked Environment Minister Joe Savikataaq whether his department meets with neighbouring jurisdictions on the status of the Beverly Qamanirjuaq caribou herds, and if there are agreements in place to ensure all jurisdictions are doing everything possible to prevent the continued decline of the herds.
Savikataaq assured that work is ongoing with co-management partners in the NWT and the provinces, as well as with the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board. He added that a total allowable harvest on the herds could be set within Nunavut, “if we feel there’s a conservation issue.”
Simailak said he believes that the GN should be prepared to reopen certain sections of the Nunavut Agreement to effectively protect the Kivalliq caribou herds, if necessary.