Managing walrus
NWMB beginning to look at new system

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Oct 04/99) - Sport hunters travelling to Nunavut for the thrill of killing a walrus may soon have a revised set of hoops to jump through.

But the intent isn't to make it harder for the growing number of sport hunters to secure their ivory trophies.

Rather, in the interests of ensuring a sustainable harvest for future generations of sport and subsistence hunters, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB) wants to get a handle on walrus stocks and populations.

To that end, the walrus working group has been struck and will look at the mass of issues that are involved in setting up a new management system that complies with the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement.

Following the founding meeting held last month, Michelle Wheatley, the director of wildlife for the board, said that the members of the working group, hailing from various interested parties and communities in Nunavut and Nunavik, had drawn up a two-page list of tasks and research to be accomplished before their next meeting in April.

Wheatley explained that an examination of a new quota system -- or the possible absence of a quota system altogether -- would be considered in an option paper compiled by the board and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and would be sent out to the communities for comment.

That paper, coupled with the research that has to be done before a new management system can be responsibly set up, will provide the basis for the second meeting. With the exception of beneficiaries residing four Nunavut communities (Coral Harbour, Sanikiluaq, Arctic Bay and Clyde River) with DFO-established quotas, all Inuk residents are permitted to take up to four walrus a year.

Considered by the claim to be big game, non-beneficiaries are not permitted to hunt walrus without assigned rights.