Nunavut orders strict caribou quota for Southampton Island
Total allowable hunt set at 1,000 animals per year
The Government of Nunavut has ordered a strict new quota, which took effect July 1, for the Southampton Island caribou population, the GN said July 5 in a news release.
The total allowable harvest is now set at 1,000 animals per year. All 1,000 tags will go to Coral Harbour residents.
“We regret having to take such drastic measures as to limit the harvest, however this is the only way that we can quickly and adequately address the problem, in order to safeguard the caribou for future generations,” James Arreak, the Nunavut environment minister, said in the release.
The island’s caribou population, harvested primarily by Coral Harbour hunters, has nosedived in recent years.
In 1997, studies estimated the Island population at about 30,000 animals.
But the estimated population plummeted to about 7,800 in 2011, a decline of about 75 per cent.
The GN said rates of reproduction, the overall health of the herd, and “a drastic rise in the export market to other communities” are all likely contributing factors.
In recent years, harvesters have used Facebook and other internet applications to sell caribou meat from Coral Harbour to buyers living in other Nunavut communities.
The herd is declining at such a rapid rate, the GN fears it could be wiped out in only three years if current harvest rates continue.
Noah Kadlak, chair of Coral Harbour’s Aiviit hunters and trappers organization, said the HTO board “would like to see something done about this before it is too late and there are no caribou left on the island.”
Arreak used the authority of the Nunavut Wildlife Act to imposed the quota as an interim measure.
In the meantime, staff from the GN’s Department of the Environment will soon present results from a recent aerial survey of caribou to the community.
Those results will be used to recommend long-term management measures.