North Slave leaders collectively condemned the illegal killing of scores of caribou in the last two weeks.
Minister of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR), Shane Thompson, together with Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief George Mackenzie, Łutsel Kʼe Dene First Nation Chief Darryl Marlowe, and other Indigenous regional leaders, issued a joint statement Friday to reinforce the need for responsible harvesting of caribou in “this time of rapid herd decline.”
The statement indicated wasted meat and parts from 12 more caribou were also discovered outside the zone last weekend.
“Working together, the decision was made to close the harvest of Bathurst caribou and put in place a mobile no-hunting zone to protect the herd,” according to a quote attributed to the abovementioned leaders. “Hunters should not be harvesting in this zone, given the fragile state of the Bathurst herd.”
They warned wasting meat is not just disrespectful, but against the law.
The Bathurst caribou herd has declined by 98 per cent since 1986. Only 8,200 caribou remain. The Mobile Zone was put in place in 2015 to protect the herd. No hunting is allowed inside this zone.
ENR officers seized meat and issued tickets to hunters caught over the weekend. Prior to March 21, there had only been one case of harvesting in the mobile zone this winter, according to the statement.
“Over the weekend, hunters along the winter road were observed travelling and gathering and visiting in groups,” the statement continued. “This behaviour goes against the advice of the Chief Public Health Officer, who supports people going out on the land, but only with their immediate family or people they live with.
It said ENR will continue to actively monitor the Mobile Zone through daily air and ground patrols and enforce the no-hunting rule to protect the Bathurst caribou herd.
“It is up to all of us to ensure we are making good decisions to protect the health and safety of our communities and the future of our caribou,” Thompson said. “There are other animals that can be legally harvested at this time, including moose, muskox, fish, small game and other caribou herds. We encourage people to look at other options, and to harvest other animals respectfully and sustainably.”