N.W.T. environment officers respond to complaints of food wastage on ice road

·2 min read
Officers with the N.W.T.'s Department of Environment and Natural Resources are looking for assistance from the public to catch the culprits who wasted hunted caribou. (Kyle Mandeville - image credit)
Officers with the N.W.T.'s Department of Environment and Natural Resources are looking for assistance from the public to catch the culprits who wasted hunted caribou. (Kyle Mandeville - image credit)

The Northwest Territories' Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) is investigating after complaints of caribou carcasses found along the ice road to the Diavik Diamond Mine.

Officers with ENR say they can't disclose the specifics of the investigation but are looking for the public's help to catch the culprits.

Adrian Lizotte, wildlife and environment manager for the department in the North Slave region, has been working along the ice road this winter.

He says they've received several reports of abandoned wildlife bodies, along with increased activity this year on the north end of Mackay Lake.

"Some of the reports are [of] waste of caribou, failure to retrieve an animal, also, hunting in a mobile zone, and harvesting with no license," he said.

The department has two check stations that have been established for a few years — one at the south end of Gordon Lake and one on Mackay Lake. With the increase in activity they added a third check station, which will be mobile, with a camper towed behind a pickup truck.

Areas with increased activity of harvesting will be focused on, whether inside or outside the mobile zone.

An image submitted by a hunter shows a caribou with only some of its organs removed.
An image submitted by a hunter shows a caribou with only some of its organs removed.

Illegal meat sales

Lizotte says the department is also getting complaints about people trafficking wildlife.

The dry meat trade on social media sites like Facebook has been huge and a contributor to over-harvesting. But Lizotte warns against selling the meat to others.

"There are no commercial licenses for caribou, so anything that is used for caribou should just be used for personal purposes to feed yourself or your family," Lizotte said.

"It's not for sale.… If you are caught trafficking wildlife, it's a $949 fine."

There have been reports of caribou bodies being wasted after being hunted.
There have been reports of caribou bodies being wasted after being hunted.

Lizotte says that before going hunting, inexperienced hunters should familiarize themselves about the edible parts of the animal so there isn't any wastage or fines.

"The main message is respect. You know, you've got to respect the wildlife, respect the land and the water," he said. "Take what you need to go feed your family."