Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit January 20, 2014 - 9:45 am

Consultations on dwindling Baffin caribou begin in Iqaluit

Aerial surveys suggest numbers are a fraction of what they were 20 years ago

DAVID MURPHY
Methusalah Kunuk, left, in profile, scans a map of South Baffin with members of the public including Solomon Awa, in red plaid, during a community consultation in Iqaluit  Jan. 19 to discuss the decline in South Baffin's caribou population. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)
Methusalah Kunuk, left, in profile, scans a map of South Baffin with members of the public including Solomon Awa, in red plaid, during a community consultation in Iqaluit Jan. 19 to discuss the decline in South Baffin's caribou population. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)

About 20 Iqalummiut gathered at the Iqaluit Parish Hall Jan. 18 to talk about the worrying decline of caribou on Baffin Island — and to talk about the idea of locally imposed conservation limits on the harvesting of caribou.

Called the “Baffin Island Community Caribou Consultations,” representatives from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Government of Nunavut, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board and the Qikiqtaaluk Wildlife Board attended the event, gave presentations and answered questions.

The goal: “to discuss the current state of caribou on Baffin Island and possible conservation measures to support their return in greater numbers,” according to a GN public service announcement. 

The need for more management of caribou harvesting comes after the release of an 2012 aerial survey which estimated there were between 1,065 and 2,067 caribou, one year old or older, on South Baffin Island.

Estimates from surveys conducted in 1991 put the number on South Baffin at 180,000.

“Community-based management initiatives” — which is likely a euphemism for self-imposed quotas and controls on hunting caribou — was one of the main topics of conversation.

According to a report from a Baffin Island caribou workshop which took place last July, “a community-based approach that supports Inuit self-management was identified as the preferred system for caribou management on Baffin Island.”

That likely mean that Inuit hunters and trappers organizations would regulate the hunting of caribou.

At the workshop Jan. 18, presenters confirmed another aerial survey will take place in February and March of 2014. Elders and locals will help with the survey using traditional Inuit knowledge (Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit).

The consultation also touched on developing a “long-term Baffin Island Caribou Management Plan” to monitor the caribou population.

Consultations will continue in other communities this week and next. They all run from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. The tour includes:

• Qikiqtarjuaq Jan. 20, School Gym;
• Clyde River Jan. 21, Community Hall;
• Pond Inlet Jan. 22, Nasivvik School Gym;
• Arctic Bay Jan. 23, Community Hall;
• Igloolik Jan. 24, Community Hall;
• Hall Beach Jan. 25, Community Hall; and
• Kimmirut Jan 27, School Gym.

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