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Nunatsiavut migratory bird hunt good despite late spring

Jamie Jacque of Postville waits for ducks and geese by the mouth of English River May 26.
Jamie Jacque of Postville waits for ducks and geese by the mouth of English River May 26. - Thom Barker

NUNATSIAVUT — A very late spring was a mixed blessing for Nunatsiavut beneficiaries taking advantage of the spring migratory bird harvest.

“Longer ice now makes travel to harvesting areas easier, but means less places for migrating birds to stage from,” said Jim Goudie, Nunatsiavut wildlife manager.

Nevertheless, he said, birds were abundant wherever there was open water.

“The general consensus coming from those that have been out and active is it’s a fairly good year for geese and ducks,” he said.

While Inuit people are technically allowed to hunt for sustenance throughout the year anywhere within the land claim area, the Nunatsiavut government does seek to limit the duration of spring hunting and the number of birds taken by voluntary means.

“There’s no total allowable harvest, per se, for Nunatsiavut beneficiaries with migratory birds so what we do is recommend,” Goudie said. “There’s no actual regulation or legislation behind it on the part of the Nunatsiavut government, it’s just a recommendation to beneficiaries to say, ‘by this time you should stop hunting’.”

This year, that time was May 31.

“Usually, it falls on the last Saturday in May, but this year because of the ice cover and the snow cover we decided to extend it to May 31,” Goudie said.

Also by recommendation only, each household is only supposed to take four geese and eight ducks or divers.

“There’s no actual set bag limit that could be enforced by any regulation,” he noted. “By and large, it’s bought into by most people.”

Goudie said the recommendations — arrived at through annual consultation between community, land and resources committees; conservation officers; hunters; and government representatives — have been consistent in the decade since the land claim was settled.

Naturally, consensus is not unanimous.

“There has been some concern raised by some Nunatsiavut beneficiaries, but the majority are comfortable with the recommendations,” he said. “I’ve had some people say we shouldn’t have any recommendations at all, we should be able to just go get what we want. I’ve had people say (the bag limit) should be lowered. I’ve had people tell me that it should be non-existent, that there should be no spring hunt.

“From a purely population standpoint there’s absolutely no issue with any of the migratory populations.”

There is no spring harvest for non-beneficiaries.

The federal government, which regulates the fall migratory bird harvest, has not announced the 2018 season dates.

For beneficiaries, there is no set fall season, but Goudie said it more or less falls in line with the provincial and federal dates.

“If you want to call it a season, generally, most times, harvesters start again roughly, you could say, the beginning of September,” he said.

Non-beneficiaries wanting to hunt on Inuit lands must purchase a federal or provincial licence then obtain permission to access from a Nunatsiavut conservation officer.

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