Hunt planned
Kitikmeot Foods looks to harvest 400 muskoxen

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

Cambridge Bay (Feb 14/00) - Nunavut Development Corporation's Kitikmeot Foods is preparing for a federally-approved muskox harvest, according to Michael Smart.

Smart, general manager at Cambridge Bay-based Kitikmeot Foods, said the meat and fish processing plant is aiming to harvest 400 muskoxen in the near future, likely next month.

"We don't want to risk going bigger (than 400 animals) until we see the impact of this harvest," said Smart.

"The faster the harvest goes, the lower the cost of the meat will be," he added.

Ideally, the hunt and initial processing at a temporary abattoir about 70 kilometres west of Cambridge Bay will take about 10 days.

Canada Food Inspection Agency officials will be at the abattoir and the Cam Bay plant.

A federally- sanctioned harvest means the meat can be sold to customers outside Nunavut.

The 400 muskoxen will yield about 26,500 kilograms (59,000 pounds) of meat. The hunt will employ about 25 people at the abattoir and about a dozen more at the processing plant.

It will cost about $100,000 to $120,000 to successfully complete the hunt, and about $5,000 to $6,000 per day to operate the abattoir, estimates Smart.

He anticipates some of the meat will be sold to Yellowknife where it will be featured on restaurant menus.

Southern Canadian and U.S. cities are other potential markets for muskox meat.

As for the hides, there is a joint-venture between the Kitikmeot Hunters and Trappers Organization and Mini-Mills to produce qiviut -- the soft wool -- from the hides. Mini-Mills is a design concept of Prince Edward Island company International Spinners Ltd.

Equipment at the abattoir is being leased from the Ekaluktutiak Hunters and Trappers Association in Cam Bay.

Last November, Kitikmeot Foods had hoped to run a federally-inspected harvest but equipment at the abattoir, on the Ekalluk River, was damaged by ice and water so the hunt was postponed.