Iqaluit hunters investigating illegal caribou hunting

Iqaluit hunters investigating illegal caribou hunting

Hunters in Iqaluit are investigating allegations of illegal caribou hunting around the city.

Every Baffin Island community has been on a restricted quota system since 2015, after a 2012 survey found the herd had decreased 95 per cent since the 1990s.

Iqaluit's 25 tags for this hunting season were all used up by September, but the chair of the Amaruq Hunters and Trappers Association, Pitseolak Alainga, says some hunters may have been harvesting animals anyway.

"Right now we're investigating a few hunters and we'd like to get some hunters not to go out caribou hunting because the caribou season only opens in August," said Alainga.

He says as many as 10 caribou may have been poached.

"Maybe more, maybe less," he said. "We'd like to stop people from hunting caribou until the caribou season opens."

Alainga said the consequences for poaching caribou could range from a fine to the forfeiture of hunting equipment. 

Nunavut's Wildlife Act says Hunters and Trappers Organizations and Regional Wildlife Organizations may impose their own penalties for breaking their respective by-laws. The Act also sets out penalties for breaking its laws, ranging from a $500 fine to jail time.

Nunavut's Department of Environment is also assisting in the investigation, according to Alainga.

In an email on Friday, the department said it is aware of reports of possible illegal harvesting in Iqaluit.

"In response to recent reports, patrols have been increased and the department is asking for community members to report any illegal harvesting activity to the local wildlife office," said Debbie Purvis, manager of communications for the Department of Environment.

"The department will continue to monitor the status of Baffin Island caribou to ensure that our conservation efforts are successful."