Nunavut worried about caribou meat sales

The online market for caribou meat has grown and wildlife managers in Nunavut are concerned that this might bring some extra stress on some caribou populations. Hunters are offering their meat online through Facebook and sending them to places outside Canada.

Hunters and Trappers Organization has a growing concern about what this might mean to some herds and their eventual decline according to government Biologist Mitch Campbell. 

"There's a lot of money to be made in these internet sales, and there's literally no restrictions within Nunavut," he said, "so it has the potential of causing huge conservation concerns on certain caribou populations, if we don't get a handle on it or get an idea of what's going on with it." 

Campbell holds that it is this indiscriminate selling of caribou meat through Facebook that brought down its population a couple of years ago.  The fact that shipping costs for food products within Nunavut are rather low has helped lower the price of the meat making it more competitive and in higher demand. First Air and Canadian North offered a flat shipping rate within anywhere in Nunavut.  The purpose was to make products such as caribou meat, more accessible.  With this measure, the cargo volume increased 100% according Ryan Fawcett, Canadian North’s director of cargo services.   

An advisory board that monitors caribou has increased the herd’s vulnerability rating to “medium-high due to the impact that is being caused on the Kivalliq region’s Qamanirjuaq caribou herd by online sales.

A Government of Nunavut aerial surveys suggest that the caribou´s population has dropped from 349,000 in 2008 to an estimated 264,000 in 2015.  Even though there are not hard numbers, it is estimated that the demand of meat by buyers exceeds what the populations of caribou can sustain. 

Measures are being taken to preserve the species.  However, Canadian North is not planning on changing their food shipping program.