Nunavut is partly to blame for Bathurst Caribou Ban

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lauracbowman
Nunavut is partly to blame for Bathurst Caribou Ban

 

In the NWT where the Dene are now facing a hunting ban on the Bathurst Caribou herd there has been much talk about who has the authority to ban hunting between hunters and wildlife managers. In Nunavut, Inuit have seen dramatic herd declines in North Baffin and in the Thelon region as well.

There can be no doubt that wildlife conservation measures strike at the very heart of indigenous rights. The history of wildlife conservation in Canada is a sordid one. Some of Canada's first wildlife conservation measures were developed by a racist judge, Judge Prince in Ontario in the late 19th Century, specifically to prevent aboriginal harvesting.

This legacy will perhaps forever haunt the debate on conservation and wildlife measures for aboriginal people. There is no doubt that there continue to be good reasons to be suspicious of many conservation initiatives. Not all are science-based, many continue to pander to populist ideals that favour restrictions on hunting the cute and the charismatic. The sealskin ban in the EU is a perfect example of this. Likewise many are often grounded in a weak understanding of animal populations and ecology, the bowhead whale controversy in Nunavut being but one example.

In the case of the Bathurst Caribou too, one may rightly question the decision to ban hunting instead of creating protected areas in the heavily mineral tenured Bathurst Inlet region. Nunavut has long been allowing irresponsible levels of mineral exploration and development activity in the Nunavut portions of the Bathurst herd's range and particularly in their calving areas. Likewise the NWT has been allowing diamond mining in calving areas since the 1990s. Indeed Nunavut's decision to build a deep sea port and allow numerous exploration projects in the Bathurst Herd's calving grounds are more to blame for a lack of access to the Bathurst Herd than NWT wildlife management decisions.

For example, ten years ago there was a Bathhurst Caribou Management Committee formed to prepare a ten-year management strategy for the Bathurst herd. In 2004 a draft management strategy was produced and the NWT released a final management strategy for barren-ground Caribou in 2006. The strategy outlines that since the 1990s Caribou protection measures were lifted to facilitate building two diamond mines on the spring migration and calving grounds of the Bathurst herd and that, in 2006 there were two further diamond mines under construction. However there were absolutely no habitat protection measures put in place in that strategy.

Likewise, the 2005 Beverly Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Plan for the Thelon region recommends that calving and migration routes be protected for these herds. The Board has publicly come out on numerous occasions against allowing exploration or mining in Caribou migration and calving areas. However the Board has no authority to create protected areas and no leadership in the territorial government or from Inuit organizations in Nunavut has supported the Board by creating protected areas on the calving grounds.

Perhaps the only official in Nunavut to seriously address mining and caribou habitat was the biologist Mitch Campbell with Nunavut environment who gave a presentation at the last Nunavut Mining Symposium in March 2009. Mr. Campbell for one of the first times contrasted the choices and tradeoffs involved in mineral extraction.

One can search in vain for a single statement by any Inuit organization leader in Nunavut from the last ten years supporting caribou habitat protection of any kind. For its part, the territorial Inuit organization NTI has opposed numerous potential hunting restrictions (for example the listing of Peary Caribou as threatened under federal species at risk legislation in 2007). However no one has come out in favour of protecting the habitat of those same animals.   Instead NTI has invested in mining.  Not one debate in the legislative assembly website for Nunavut even discusses caribou habitat protection. Not a single Nunavut MLA has mentioned it as a distinct issue in recent memory. In fact the only place where caribou calving and mining is mentioned in the Nunavut debates is in the youth parliament from 2008 where Ms. Simik stated the issue very aptly by making job training and conservation her focus:

" I will get the people training for mining; also, it would be great if the mining isn't near a calving ground. We have to think of our wildlife, too, since they are our main food. Thank you, Madam Speaker."

It would therefore be extremely unfair to call the attitude of adult Inuit and Nunavut political leaders on this issue "childish" for failing to debate, acknowledge, and recognize the choices that are being made in Nunavut in favour of mineral extraction over caribou harvesting. Clearly Inuit youth have a vastly better appreciation for how to make balanced decisions on caribou harvesting and economic development. Meanwhile, Nunavut's leadership wants to have their diamonds and eat caribou too, without so much as a hint of a plan to make that possible.

Regardless of the specific conservation issues in-play, the obsessive focus of Nunavut's Inuit leadership on control over harvesting restrictions instead of habitat protection dramatically undermines their credibility as protectors of Inuit harvesting rights. These rights are utterly without content if there are no more caribou to hunt because these same leaders have authorized, promoted and even demanded uncontrolled development in important caribou areas. After all the best way to avoid future hunting restrictions and endangered species listings is to ensure the habitat integrity is robust enough to maintain population sizes.

The current debate between the Dene and NWT wildlife managers as well as the struggles between Nunavut Inuit leaders and federal wildlife officials amounts to little more than embarrassing arguments over who can authorize or prevent the shooting of the last animals and who gets the tags. It is a sad commentary indeed that aboriginal leaders in the Eastern Arctic are playing who's the boss in caribou harvesting restrictions, instead of taking responsibility for addressing the causes of herd declines. Instead, everyone should be working together to create protected calving and migration routes to ensure the long-term integrity of these animals.

Laura Bowman

Edmonton AB

jas

Interesting, Laura Bowman. Thank you.

I don't understand all the issues, but one thing I would counter is your comment

lauracbowman wrote:

Not all are science-based, many continue to pander to populist ideals that favour restrictions on hunting the cute and the charismatic. The sealskin ban in the EU is a perfect example of this.

I am making a somewhat informed guess that the sealskin ban is not about conservation but about how the animals are killed and what they are killed for.

Ghislaine

One of the things seals are killed for is meat.

Stargazer

The other thing the seals are killed for is fur. I'd guess that fur is the major reason for the seal hunt.

 

Jas is correct (and I really really hate it when people level this debate down to seals being "cute". It is demeaning and silly). People do not like the seal hunt because it is incredibly inhumane.

remind remind's picture

Personally, I do not think it more inhumane than any other form of hunting and trapping done by humans, and a hellva lot less so than domestic animal/bird culling..for whatever purpose.

E.Tamaran

Stargazer wrote:

People do not like the seal hunt because it is incredibly inhumane.

 

Fuck you! It's not inhumane. It's about survival of traditionals ways of life. Anyone who says FNs go out of their way to torture animals for fun is racist! Straight up!

Le T Le T's picture

Yo, easy on the Gazer, E.T. But I agree that there is nothing incredibly inhumane about the seal hunt. It's not just indigenous people hunting seals though, as is being implied.

Most restrictions on hunting in Canada are framed as nessesary to stop extinction. Like almost every environmental move that does not take colonialism into consideration, banning hunting of animals that are primary food source for indigenous communities is making indigenous people pay for what settlers did. It was not indigenous people who decimated almost every species on Turtle Island but it is almost always indigenous people who end up paying the price either through extinction of a species of banning of hunting (which by the way no settler gov in canada has the right to do).

Stargazer

E.Tamaran wrote:

Stargazer wrote:

People do not like the seal hunt because it is incredibly inhumane.

 

Fuck you! It's not inhumane. It's about survival of traditionals ways of life. Anyone who says FNs go out of their way to torture animals for fun is racist! Straight up!

 

Nasty bit of venom there E? No where did I make mention of FN people's use of seals. This isn't about that (BTW, I also am FN). It is about the mass slaughter that happens every year, mainly for their fur.

Stargazer

Le T wrote:

Yo, easy on the Gazer, E.T. But I agree that there is nothing incredibly inhumane about the seal hunt. It's not just indigenous people hunting seals though, as is being implied.

Most restrictions on hunting in Canada are framed as nessesary to stop extinction. Like almost every environmental move that does not take colonialism into consideration, banning hunting of animals that are primary food source for indigenous communities is making indigenous people pay for what settlers did. It was not indigenous people who decimated almost every species on Turtle Island but it is almost always indigenous people who end up paying the price either through extinction of a species of banning of hunting (which by the way no settler gov in canada has the right to do).

 

Exactly. First nations people are NOT going to benefit when all the animals are dead because they are being killed for their fur. FN people have a right to hunt seal and as far as I know, they use everything - meal, pelts etc. Unlike others who hunt just for the sale of seal skin.

Clubbing seals over the head is definitely inhumane. Is there another term that can be used to decribe bashing an animal over the head until it's dead besides inhumane?

Stargazer

It would be really nice E. T if you were to respond to these threads like a normal human being, instead of with "fuck you", which appears to be your normal discourse here.

Stargazer

dp

Le T Le T's picture

Quote:
Is there another term that can be used to decribe bashing an animal over the head until it's dead besides inhumane?

Fishing?

Stargazer

Fishing makes me cry. Seriously. I hate fishing. I hate pulling hooks out of their mouths. But I'm a vegetarian.

 

I actually did want a good answer on how clubbing seals until they are dead is not inhumane.

Le T Le T's picture

Well, obviously if you are a vegetarian then would find killing any animal inhumane. I don't think that killing a seal with a club is any less humane than most pig, cow, and chicken farms that I've worked on. Certainly it is not less humane than the feedlots that I have seen. And of course buying rice, quinoa, coffee, legumes (soy especially), corn, cotton, coco, etc. could not be considered more humane than clubing seals with the extremely exploitative (of people, other beings and/or the Earth) production of these crops.

remind remind's picture

Exactly Le T, there is little room for calling others inhumane in this world, in respect to our eating habits, unless one is totally self sufficient I suppose.

 

Also, I do not find animal fur and hides being used for clothing appareal any more inhumane than wearing non-organic cotton, and plastics. The destruction that is wrought upon species and the environment, is no better than the use of furs and hides...

 

We are all in the same boat here, it does us no good to pretend we are in another one that is better than others.

 

 

remind remind's picture

Also, I read reports on the declining Cariboo issue, compiled from several parties back in 2000, and what their conclusion was, way back then, that  the declining herds were not specific to any one thing, but in fact several things from the far southern breeding reaches of their habitat, to the most bnorthern calving grounds that impacted them.

Unfortunately, it is a fact that First Nations peoples are paying the price in this respect, from white man's impacting the Cariboo environment at every level, and region.

Le T Le T's picture

Quote:
Unfortunately, it is a fact that First Nations peoples are paying the price in this respect, from white man's impacting the Cariboo environment at every level, and region.

 

This is true in many areas of environmental degradation. There is also a major racialization of environmental destruction at the global and local levels. This is almost never talked about in mainstream environmentalism.

remind remind's picture

Agreed, and am always torn with wanting to be forth right and alienating those who are doing it by indicating  the inherent racism, or allowing them their self soothing delusions of grandeur, in order to keep them on board and working and going for change...of their own behaviour and those of the  peers.

E.Tamaran

Stargazer wrote:

E.Tamaran wrote:

Stargazer wrote:

People do not like the seal hunt because it is incredibly inhumane.

 

Fuck you! It's not inhumane. It's about survival of traditionals ways of life. Anyone who says FNs go out of their way to torture animals for fun is racist! Straight up!

 

Nasty bit of venom there E? No where did I make mention of FN people's use of seals. This isn't about that (BTW, I also am FN). It is about the mass slaughter that happens every year, mainly for their fur.

 

Do hear yourself? "nowhere did I make mention of FN people's use of seals." Yet you claim that people who kill seals are inhumane, which would include FN peoples!!! FNs peopleles have been harvesting seals for ages and it is part of many cultures. And adding that you are FN doesn't give you a pass to call cultural traditions inhumane. You're acting like Fontaine who takes money from VANOC and the IOC to support the Olympics on stolen land. You sicken me with your hipocracy!!!

jas

Just a suggestion, but maybe the discussion on sealing should take place back in the thread on sealing. There's a discussion there on whether bans by other countries on seal product imports are racist or not.

 

midnight_flower

by STARGAZER

"- First nations people are NOT going to benefit when all the animals are dead because they are being killed for their fur. FN people have a right to hunt seal and as far as I know, they use everything - meal, pelts etc. Unlike others who hunt just for the sale of seal skin.

Clubbing seals over the head is definitely inhumane. Is there another term that can be used to decribe bashing an animal over the head until it's dead besides inhumane?"

 

lonewolfbunn lonewolfbunn's picture

Stargazer wrote:

E.Tamaran wrote:

Stargazer wrote:

People do not like the seal hunt because it is incredibly inhumane.

 

Fuck you! It's not inhumane. It's about survival of traditionals ways of life. Anyone who says FNs go out of their way to torture animals for fun is racist! Straight up!

 

Nasty bit of venom there E? No where did I make mention of FN people's use of seals. This isn't about that (BTW, I also am FN). It is about the mass slaughter that happens every year, mainly for their fur.

 

So Mister traditionalist representative of First Nations people, now you are saying that Northern people sustained themselves by eating baby seals.

You think you have the right as an anonymous entity to represent an entire nation of people and attack a FN just because she has publicly proclaimed that she has some white blood in her.  Meanwhile your INTERNET pure blood status is all you need to attack people of all nations otherwise you will pull out the race card.

Someone like you can curse at her in the most vulgar way and get away with it because you will cry racism even though for all anyone knows you could be a nazi.

Prove me wrong.  I am not the only one on to you. 

 

I've read enough of your posts to be sure before I said anything.

But to the big picture it is meaningless because once exposed you merely set up a new screenname.  And a new IP address is also simple to get if you got the funding.

E.Tamaran

Settlers and their co-opts have a romantic vision of FN peoples. "Oh, they use every part of the animal for sustenance only, not like those nasty fishermen on the east coast who only want the skin to sell for evil profit". The reality is that FN peoples also harvest seals and other wild animals for fur to sell on the open market for money so they can have many of the things settlers take for granted like trucks and tv. Elitist settlers and their foreign backers like PETA and WWF in Toronto are actively destroying FN economies with their support for a ban on all seal products because they think only Newfoundland sealers will be affected. WAKE UP! People are really hurting all over the north because of the collaspse of the foreign fur sales. Claims from so-called activists on this board that hunting is inhumane and barbaric are just racist because the people who have the least ability to withstand the attacks (like the friends I have in Cape Dorset) are FN. It's like curb stomping and it's disgusting.

ETA: The claims are racist, not the people, generally.

Stargazer

It has sweet FA to do with "romantic ideals" or being an "elitist settler" or a "foreign backer". I am against ALL mass killing of animals. I am pro hunting on reserves and other remote places where people hunt to live (white or FN). I am anti-sports hunting. I am pro-animal rights. I am pro-FN rights.I am pro-HUMAN rights.

My experience with hunters consists of two things - my brother and his hunting partners hunting for moose to feed the family (I don't know where you live, but where he lives, he needs to hunt to eat) and the friends I hung out with at their cottage, who used to hunt for the hell of it. The thrill of the kill. This is my only experience with hunting.

But if it makes you feel better than have at me some more E. T.

If your point is to say that FN people hunt and kill the same amount of seals, in the same mass way whites do, then simply say so. To you there appears to be no difference. I don't know if that is the case. I don't think it is.

Do you hunt for seal?

 

 

E.Tamaran

This isn't about NL sealers at all. NL sealers will always have options that FN sealers won't. You know as well as I do that many FN communities are suffering because European fur bans have destroyed their cash economy. So what's your solution? Move the people south so they can becaome wage zombies?

 

I've hunted moose.

 

Stargazer

E.T. no chance my solution would be to move reserves to the south. That is not anything I would consider - ever. I'm not sure why there has to be such dramatics and polarizing with you or why you would imply that I am for forcing people off reserves. 

 

I don't know what the solution is to be honest.

lonewolfbunn lonewolfbunn's picture

Le T wrote:

Well, obviously if you are a vegetarian then would find killing any animal inhumane. I don't think that killing a seal with a club is any less humane than most pig, cow, and chicken farms that I've worked on. Certainly it is not less humane than the feedlots that I have seen. And of course buying rice, quinoa, coffee, legumes (soy especially), corn, cotton, coco, etc. could not be considered more humane than clubing seals with the extremely exploitative (of people, other beings and/or the Earth) production of these crops.

 

If an animal is killed for the meat it is easier to kill them without causing them much pain.  I worked in a huge pork processing plant.  When I started I was given a tour and I seen how the pigs were killed.  First they are given an electric shock that is supposed to knock them unconcious then their jugular is cut.  Then they are shot through the head with a 22 caliber bullet.

When a white seal is killed for the fur shooting them would ruin the fur.  Many of them are not even clubbed over the head because there is more chance of getting blood on it.  I seen footage of a seal slaughter and many of them were being skinned alive.

Now if a hunter is killing a mature seal for the meat they obviously don't skin them alive.  The Inuit hunters also know that if they only go around killing the babies - it would only be a matter of time before the seal population is depleted.

lonewolfbunn lonewolfbunn's picture

If it was their tradition to kill baby seals 500 hundred years ago there would surely be none left now to debate about.

 

I won't say anymore about seals in this thread because that was not the original topic.

KeyStone

While it may be racist to assume that the biologists with their fancy computers, data modelling, tracking techniques, have a superior way of managing wildlife than the first nations, there really can be no doubt that every group that either participates in the conservation effort or the hunting needs to work together in managing the population of migratory populations.

It may very well be that if aboriginal groups hunted seals/polar bears/fish, etc on their own with no other factors such as global warming, disease, other human predators, that they would do a great job of managing the populations.

But when there are multiple groups hunting, they need to communicate and plan together. Furthermore, if there are extenuating circumstances such as global warming, this needs to be taken into account. I am not sure if there are First Nation groups that use data modelling etc, to ensure healthy population numbers. If not, this needs to be incorporated into FN/Inuit traditions.

There is a reason why there are International Organizations to help sustain the populations of migratory animals (such as whales). Information needs to be shared, and all groups need to participate in the process such that licenses can be allocated in a fair manner. If just one group feels it can ignore any cooperation and use its own determinants, it can endanger both the cooperative agreements and the sustained existence of the animal itself.

Yiwah

Sorry, apparently this doesn't quite belong here but I wanted to clear some things up.

 

The Inuit seal hunt accounts for [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seal_hunting#Traditional_Inuit_hunt]3%[/url] of the total hunt.  As well, the Inuit are not the one [url=http://www.scribd.com/doc/22261385/Canada%E2%80%99s-Commercial-Seal-Hunt... baby seals[/url]...even [url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/article750161.ece]opponents... to the seal hunt admit that freely. Inuit hunting is [url=http://ec.europa.eu/environment/biodiversity/animal_welfare/seals/seal_h... from the EU ban on seal products although there is the typical line about 'only if it's not for commercial purposes' which has been roundly rejected by [url=http://www.liberalsenateforum.ca/In-The-Senate/Publication/3668_Inuit-ne... leaders[/url].

E.Tamaran

Exactly. Why should Inuit be forced to hunt only for subsistence? There is absolutely nothing wrong with sealskin coats or raingear. It's 100% natural, organic, renewable, no pvcs or plastics. The truest form of a "green" product. And the EU wants to ban it.

lonewolfbunn lonewolfbunn's picture

I said that I wouldn't say anymore about seals in this thread because it is not about seals.  So I will quote these idiotic sentences, to make an opposing statement.

 

E.Tamarin wrote:
Fuck you! It's not inhumane. It's about survival of traditionals ways of life.

E.Tamarin wrote:
That's why we must sell as much seal products to the Chinese. They love the stuff.

ceti ceti's picture

The issue with the caribou hunt points to all that is politically wrong in the Northern territories which remains a colonial space. Wildlife management has always been dicey and shrouded with colonialist trappings (to say the least), however this time, all sides of the issue are being disingenuous except perhaps the grassroots members of the communities that are being affected. On one hand, we have governments that cannot and will not reign in industrial development and exploration that is impacting the caribou, while on the other (the direness of the situation is highlighted by the government's willingness to enforce a politically suicidal hunting ban), we have much grandstanding by outfitters and some hunters about how caribou numbers are not dropping without a shred of evidence. 

Indeed, the aboriginal leadership of many of the settled land claim areas are stuck between meeting the traditional needs of their community (traditional being a loaded word -- the fur trade itself only goes back to European contact and the role of the Companies) while promoting new economic development which is inimical to that same livelihood strategy. They are thus placed in the comprador position which gives rise to all sorts of contradictions. It's actually quite difficult to see a path out of this impasse as there seems to be no easy solutions.

prowsej

Most sealing is humane. But some of it isn't. What we need to do to address inhumane seal hunting practices - and I think that they are just as deplorable if they are conducted by an aboriginal person or a white Newfoundlander - is to have legislation which requires humane hunting practices. In the case of seals, those laws would require that seals be killed before they are skinned. The way to tell whether a seal is dead after use of a club or hakapik is to do a "blink test" on its eye. That isn't required. It should be. 

KeyStone

Prowse.

Those laws already exist. The eyeprick test has been law for some time now.
The problem is the enforcement. The only observers are some vets handpicked by the sealers and the DFO.

No third party observers are allowed anywhere near the hunt. So, no one can witness of capture the lack of humane practices on the seals.

To be perfectly honest, the humane killing is not really the issue. The real issue is that there are hundreds of thousands of infant animals killed for their pelts within a few days.

The seal hunt is sustainable.
The manner of killing, while it looks brutal, is certainly no more brutal than the killing of domestic animals.

The rest is all a smokescreen.

 

prowsej

Interesting. I didn't know that the eyeprick test was required by law. Thanks for the info.