Don’t waste caribou, Kivalliq HTO tells hunters

‘This type of practice is prohibited by Inuit culture,’ says Kivalliq Hunters and Trappers Organization staffer

The Kivalliq Hunters and Trappers Organization is reminding residents that it’s illegal to waste the meat of caribou, such as these seen wandering across the tundra near Rankin Inlet. (File photo courtesy of Agnico Eagle Mining Ltd.)

By Jane George

Some hunters in Rankin Inlet have been wasting caribou meat — and that needs to stop, says the Kivalliq Hunters and Trappers Organization in a recent open message to the community’s hunters.

“This type of practice is prohibited by Inuit culture,” said Thomas Comer, an employee and spokesperson for the organization, in a release posted on social media.

“If there are certain parts of the meat which you do not wish to keep, please bear in mind that there are elders and other members of the community who will gladly take the meat.”

Hunters are legally allowed to leave the head, legs below the knee and guts behind — and the skin can also be left behind depending on the time of the year.

But those who leave more than that could face a fine of $575 for breaking the Nunavut Wildlife Act.

“If you witness this type of practice, please do not hesitate to report this,” said Comer in the message.

“The Wildlife Department needs you as a witness to complete the legal process in procuring a fine.”

Comer told Nunatsiaq News that hunters who take just parts of the caribou should be considered “poachers.”

“They don’t deserve to be called hunters. Why are they taking just parts of the caribou? Poachers are well known for their love of money and these people fall into that category quite descriptively,” he said.

“A genuine hunter never leaves any parts of the caribou behind that is edible.”

The Nunavut government has also posted signs around Rankin Inlet with a reminder to hunters that it’s illegal to waste the remains of a hunt.

Earlier this year, Cathy Towtongie, MLA for Rankin Inlet North–Chesterfield Inlet, also brought up the waste of meat in the Nunavut legislature.

“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,” she said in March.

“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.”

The caribou fat, or tunnuq, is considered to be one of the best parts of a whole caribou, which can sell from $400 or more on various Facebook groups for the selling or swapping of country foods.

During the last legislative sitting, Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, who is also the environment minister, said the government wouldn’t regulate online caribou meat sales.

The population of the Qamanirjuaq herd, harvested by hunters in the Kivalliq region, is in a healthier state than many others in northern Canada, but in 2018 it was still in decline.

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(23) Comments:

  1. Posted by Baffin Region on

    us baffinmuit will gladly take the meat you wish to get rid of!

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  2. Posted by Inuk guy on

    Well done Rankin HTO. Proud of how you can speak out about this important issue. It takes strong will and conviction to say the tough things that need to be said. Some other HTOs in this region could learn from this. Being on an HTO is about more than just collecting a honoraria cheque.

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  3. Posted by I live in the Arctic on

    what a terrible shame, please consider donating the unwanted meat to a community freezer, food bank, soup kitchen.

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  4. Posted by Meat sales on

    Time to amend Nunavut Land Claim Agreement to ban meat sale. Always see same people selling meat on sell/swap for buying smokes.

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  5. Posted by eskimo joe on

    this trade on wildlife is getting out of hand, in the past 5 wks, about 200 boxes were shipped out of Arv. this is criminal. not only that, many baffinmiuts are getting ripped off, ur paying what about 400 per? this is damaging herds beyond way beyond critical situation. please stop buying wild meat, please. let the herd be, let it build up to healthy level….stop buying, stop getting ripped off…

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    • Posted by Frank on

      History has taught us that once a wildlife resource is commercialized there is a very great danger that the resource will be depleted.

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      • Posted by Lonnie on

        There are wildlife officers in every community,in the Kivalliq sitting around doing nothing, is this not their job, to patrol,and to teach people about proper conservation, and work with the Hto and try to stop this waste.

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        • Posted by Cos on

          Co’s cant be everywhere. The problem is that people who see wrongdoing are unwilling to give the names of people they see wasting meat to the co’s so that those people who are illegally wasting meat get fined/ charged. Also it is the responsibility of men to teach their family Inuit traditional values about respecting all animals and not wasting meat or hides .

          • Posted by Values Have Changed on

            Inuit traditional values have been widely replaced by Inuit current values.

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  6. Posted by S on

    Good to include a picture, so that, as the caption indicates, readers will recognize a caribou

  7. Posted by Huvaguuq on

    Legal to leave head, legs?????? Delicacies!!!!! Must be another Nunavut law written by Ottawa experts on their understanding of Inuit customs!

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  8. Posted by People problem on

    This isn’t an issue unique to caribou hunting or to inuit. There are crappy people all over north america who always think ME FIRST. It’s always been around but it’s gotten worse since Trump. You see more and more young men in Nunavut disrespect their elders, communities, etc all to get something for themselves. The Duck Dynasty, big gun & camo, blast the animal’s head off type hunter has overtaken Nunavut just like it overtook Alberta and all these other rightwing libertarian hell holes. The NLCA didn’t take into consideration that Nunavut would develop a Texas Jr complex. Until we stop celebrating all hunters and only start celebrating those who do it ethically, this place will keep getting worse.

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    • Posted by Consistency on

      This has been a problem in the Kivalliq since even the 90’s so cant even blame Trump for this one (though other things are his fault) What i think this is is that those that did this in the 90’s have kids of their own that are now hunting and their kids learnt their bad habbit. that is why it is important to do things the right way or your childern will learn the bad habits from you.

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  9. Posted by Manapik on

    A good hunter knows when to hunt and when not to hunt, fish and not to fish. We are given different seasons to hunt and fish so we have a balanced diet. There are plenty of land and sea mammals to hunt, hunting only caribou gets mundane, learn to build igloos too while out hunting.

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  10. Posted by S on

    “This type of practice is prohibited by Inuit culture,” said Thomas Comer, an employee and spokesperson for the organization,

    It’s surprising that there’s a formal prohibition of anything in Inuit, or any culture. More to the point though, which IQ principle covers prohibition of anything?

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    • Posted by Maybe this on

      Avatimik Kamattiarniq, the concept of environmental stewardship.

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      • Posted by S on

        -To: Maybe this:
        -“Avatimik Kamattiarniq” covers the concept of PROHIBITING a behavior?
        -There’s an understanding of prohibition inherent in environmental stewardship or any other IQ principle? Are you certain?

        • Posted by Maybe this on

          Dear ‘S’ – Avatimik Kamattiarniq is a principle. Policies are often derived from principles.

          In this case it seems clear that a principle of environmental stewardship implies reasonable regulations, even prohibitions in the name of the principle itself. This doesn’t seem controversial or that complicated.

  11. Posted by TGC on

    But if there’s parts left, it is better to leave it where foxes and other scavengers can clean up, not to be thrown in a dump… the cycle of life.

    • Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

      Yes but those parts must be the inedible ones for human beings.

  12. Posted by Caribou eater on

    ALL parts of the caribou are edible, including the head, marrow in the legs, marrow and tendons in the feet.

    • Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

      Yes I know, all parts are edible of the caribou. Not everyone who hunts caribou are Inuit however , There are many who are Nunavut non Inuit residents who are legally allowed to hunt caribou. Heads, legs and entrails are not part of non inuit diet. The law made accomodations for that. If you know someone who is a Non Inuit Nunavut resident legally going out caribou hunting ( has his caribou tags), you or HTO could always ask them if they would be willing to bring the head and legs back and donate them to the HTO for distribution. I bet you many would.

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