Travelling wildlife committee wraps up tour
The next step: writing the new act
Public consultations on a new Wildlife Act for Nunavut wrapped up in Iqaluit June 14, after a seven-person committee visited 25 communities in three months.
Now the committee, made up of representatives from the Nunavut government’s department of sustainable development, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. will deliver their findings to lawyers responsible for writing the landmark bill.
The committee sought public input on a total of 14 recommendations drafted by panel members.
In Iqaluit, debate focused on assignment rights, rigid export permits, hunter education programs and the definition of “inhumane.”
“Why include [the word] if we can’t agree on how to define it?” asked Madeleine Redfern.
Under the current act, written in the early 1970s by the Northwest Territories government, it’s an offence to chase a caribou by snowmobile for photography purposes. However, it is not an offence to chase caribou in the same way when hunting.
“Some possible reasons for including harassment provisions in the new act are to prevent aircraft, photographers, tourists or others from harassing animals and to require hunters to use more humane methods when hunting animals,” a discussion paper on the new act says.
Joe Tigullaraq, the panel’s facilitator, stressed that the panel’s recommendations will reflect the concerns of people throughout Nunavut. He said members will work closely with the lawyers writing the act.
“We have 25 communities in Nunavut. What we heard in Iqaluit is not the final [word],” he said.
In the case of conflicting opinions, the majority opinion will rule, he said.
Perhaps the greatest obstacle is finding a balance between acknowledging the hunting rights of Nunavut’s 20,000 beneficiaries, as set out in the Nunavut land claims agreement, and that of the several thousand non-Inuit and sport hunters who harvest wildlife each year.
“The hunters have been very appreciative of being asked for their input. I think it will make a lot of difference,” said Tigullaraq.
MLAs are expecting to see a draft of the act when the assembly sits this fall.
Public comments can be filed as late as August.