Traditional Hunting

Other PEMT sensitivity layers in this region:
Polar Bear | Bowhead Whale | Beluga | Ringed Seal | Peary Caribou
Migratory Birds | Traditional Hunting | Oil Spill Sensitivity

Summer
Traditional Hunting - Summer

Winter
Traditional Hunting - Winter

Launch the PEMT for a detailed and interactive view of these and other layers.

Valued Component Features

Key habitat

Several onshore and offshore areas in the Beaufort Sea are used as traditional hunting areas for arctic species. These areas are organized by species and associated land marks below.

Polar Bear

Tuktoyaktuk Peninsul

Offshore of the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula from the west of Pelly Island east to Franklin Bay is a key area for subsistence harvesting of polar bear during the winter (WMAC 2000c).

Beluga Whales

Mackenzie Bay

Mackenzie Bay is within the Beluga Management Zone 1A with three whaling camps used between June 15 to August 15 (WMAC 2000a). These camps are located at Shingle Point, Running River and Bird Camp.

Kendall Island

This island is adjacent to the Beluga Management Zone 1A and supports a summer whaling camp for the Inuvik people (WMAC 2000a).

Kugmallit Bay

The Bay is within the Beluga Management Zone 1A & 2 (WMAC 2000a). Four whaling camps of Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik people occur around the bay including camps at West and East Whitefish station, Ikinaluk and on Hendrickson Island (WMAC 2000a, North/South Consultants Inc. 2003).

Ringed Seal

Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula

Coastal areas off the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula including Kugmallit Bay extending north to Atkinson Bay; Liverpool Bay/Wood Bay, extending through Fingers Area, into Husky Lakes provide habitat for fall seal harvesting (WMAC 2000c).

Winter seal harvesting areas is provided on sea ice off the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula from Baillie Island west to Pelly Island and north (WMAC 2000c).

Spring harvesting of seals is provided in the eastern portion of Husky Lakes just inside the Finger Lakes area from April to June.

Migratory Birds

Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula

Land from Mackenzie Bay to Liverpool Bay including Pullen Island and Kugmallit Bay provides fall goose harvesting habitat (WMAC 2000c).

Areas of the Beaufort Sea surrounding Garry Island, Pelly Island and Hooper Island, McKinley Bay, lands east of Kugmallit Bay and and Hutchison Bay provide summer goose harvesting areas (WMAC 2000c).

Spring goose harvesting areas are present along Islands in the western portion of the Mackenzie River Estuary, from eastern Richards Island to Mason River Estuary including all of the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula and the Husky Lakes area (WMAC 2000c).

Fall goose hunting areas include all of the coastline from Yukon/Alaska border in the west, to the Mason River in the east, including sites on Anderson River and Crossley Lakes.

Mackenzie Bay

This area provides important past and present subsistence harvesting area for waterfowl (June to September).

Rationale for Selection

Hunting (and trapping) continues to be of cultural, social and spiritual importance for Inuvialuit communities, as well as, economic importance. The CCPs were developed to help protect the environment in the Mackenzie Delta / Beaufort Sea coastal, onshore and offshore areas to ensure cultural survival of the Inuvialuit Community. One of the goals of the CCP is to identify and protect important wildlife habitat, seasonal harvesting areas and cultural sites (e.g., cabin sites) and make recommendations for the conservation and management of the resources on which priority lifestyles depend. Oil pollution represents a threat to the area wildlife that is the foundation of subsistence livelihood and part of gross income. Section 13 of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA) identifies a wildlife compensation and liability regime for damages resulting from development.

13.(1)
The objectives of this section are:
  • a) to prevent damage to wildlife and its habitat and to avoid disruption of Inuvialuit harvesting activities by reason of development; and
  • b) if damage occurs, to restore wildlife and its habitat as far as is practicable to its original state and to compensate Inuvialuit hunters, trappers and fishermen for the loss of their subsistence or commercial harvesting opportunities.

13.(12)
The Government agrees that every proposed development of consequence to the Inuvialuit Settlement Region that is within its jurisdiction and that could have a significant negative impact on wildlife habitat or on present or future wildlife harvesting will be authorized only after due scrutiny of and attention to all environmental concerns and subject to reasonable mitigative and remedial provisions being imposed.

Sustainability

The total area used for hunting by the Inuvialuit has not changed much since the 1960s, but there has been a decline in the number of harvesters and a shift from full-time to part-time harvesting (Usher 2002). The mean annual harvest of country food has declined from the 1960s to the 1990s. There are several reasons for the decline; principally, the abandonment of dogs (which were primarily fed marine species of seal and whitefish) for transportation; the increased use of snowmobiles and the shift from full-time to part-time harvesting. These changes in lifestyle have led to an overall shift from marine to terrestrial country food sources. While the total amount of country food produced has declined, the amount consumed by Inuvialuit has increased. Subsistence harvesting thus continues to persist as significant economic and cultural practices in the region (Usher 2002).

Hunters typically show an affinity for particular harvesting areas (Bromley 1996; Byers and Dickson 2001). Much of the terrestrial wildlife harvesting occurs near the coast, due to the ease of transport and accessibility. To sustainably manage their resources, the Inuvialuit have designated special areas and recommended land use practices for their planning areas. In designating land management categories, the communities have prioritized land uses and activities, in addition to denoting areas of special ecological and cultural importance.

Susceptibility to development

Hunting is susceptible to development in the following ways:  loss of access to hunting areas, loss of the species being pursued, change in technology, and loss of hunting time to employment. Changes in technology and loss of time to employment have had an impact on the cultural role of hunting. Hunting, while still a family event is compressed in time to weekends or days off and renewing contact with the land, as well as the passing of knowledge and skills of a traditional lifestyle are affected. Accelerated oil and gas exploration may result in further declines in hunting activities (Byers and Dickson 2001).

The harvest of large marine mammals and migratory waterfowl is highly restricted in time and space (Usher and Wenzel 1987). Inuvialuit consistently harvest in the same areas for reasons of access and known congregation of animals. Many of these harvest areas are seasonally important for wildlife species (e.g., migration, nesting, denning). The coastal and offshore regions of the study area overlap much of the area where Inuvialuit hunters harvest polar bears. Oil and gas activities related to petroleum development might affect the movements of polar bears and make them less available for hunting, or interfere with their denning sites (Perham 2005). Polar bears are also susceptible to any changes in their food supply due to tainting, spills and disruption due to noise (Report of the Scientific Review Panel 2002). This may also cause polar bears to move from an area of disturbance and affect hunting.

Seals may be affected by changes to their food supply such as tainting. Seals do not avoid oiled areas. This has implications for birthing and nursing pups. As a result, an increase in pup mortality has been observed, in addition to eye and brain damage (Report of the Scientific Review Panel 2002). These changes could affect hunting and access to hunting areas, at least temporarily.

Whales do not avoid areas that have been oiled or otherwise contaminated. They do avoid areas where there are explosions by seismic airgun arrays by moving to the surface, hiding in acoustical shadows, move apart or simply avoid an area. (Report of the Scientific Review Panel 2002). These behavioural changes have been observed by Alaska Natives.

Migratory birds are an integral part of the food chain. They consume vegetation, zooplankton, shellfish and fish. Changes in food supply and oiling has been shown to result in mortality, reduced reproduction, growth and distribution. Each of these activities interferes with hunting.

Harvesting activities have an economic role, providing food and cash income, and a cultural role, as a family event and renewing contact with the land and passing on the knowledge and skills of a traditional lifestyle. Accelerated oil and gas exploration may result in significant changes to employment and income patterns, which has the potential of replacing a predominantly subsistence economy with an increasingly dominant wage economy resulting in a decline in fishing and hunting activities (Byers and Dickson 2001).

Mitigation

Oil pollution represents a threat to the area wildlife that is the foundation of subsistence livelihood and part of gross income. Section 13 of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA) identifies a wildlife compensation and liability regime for damages resulting from development.

13.(1)
The objectives of this section are:
  • c) to prevent damage to wildlife and its habitat and to avoid disruption of Inuvialuit harvesting activities by reason of development; and
  • d) if damage occurs, to restore wildlife and its habitat as far as is practicable to its original state and to compensate Inuvialuit hunters, trappers and fishermen for the loss of their subsistence or commercial harvesting opportunities.

Subject to Section 13(3), the Inuvialuit shall be compensated for actual wildlife harvest loss resulting from development in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, and Section 13(4) …shall benefit from environmental protection measures designed to reduce future harvest loss resulting from development in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.

13.(12)
The Government agrees that every proposed development of consequence to the Inuvialuit Settlement Region that is within its jurisdiction and that could have a significant negative impact on wildlife habitat or on present or future wildlife harvesting will be authorized only after due scrutiny of and attention to all environmental concerns and subject to reasonable mitigative and remedial provisions being imposed.

Climate Change

Climate change can have impact on the availability and use of species for traditional food. Historically, Arctic people are used to adapting to a changing environment; however, the current rate and extent of climate change may be outside of their historical experience (Riedlinger 1999). Climate changes observed in the 1990s were said to be without precedent and outside the range of variation that the Inuvialuit consider normal (Berkes and Jolly 2001).

Harvesting impacts from climate change included changes in access to resources, safety, predictability, and species availability (Berkes and Jolly 2001). Climate can be a determining factor on the access to harvesting areas.  Faster snow melt and breakup of river ice due to warmer springs and deeper, softer snow fall can make it difficult to access some area and can shorten the length of time for harvesting (Berkes and Jolly 2001).  These changes also make predicting safety of the environment difficult.  Those hunting areas closer to shore, such as ice leads, may be less risky than areas farther offshore (Laidler et al. 2006).  Ice movement in winter and spring in the 1990's was found to be less predictable with  more movement, overall thinning and changes in the distribution of pressure ridges, and cracks and leads (Berkes and Jolly 2001).

All of these climatic changes in the environment impacts the availability of some species and can reduce access to traditional food (Ford et al. 2008). Some traditional harvesting areas maybe unavailable or shortened due to access difficulties or some may no longer provide key harvesting areas due to species response to a changed environment. In those areas where species are still available hunting conditions, such as visibility of seals on summer ice, can be more difficult due to the changed environment (Berkes and Jolly 2001).

Sensitivity layers and scores

Traditional Hunting

Community Conservation Plans were developed to help protect the environment in the Mackenzie Delta area and onshore and offshore areas of the Beaufort Sea. Within the CCPs, important wildlife habitat and/or harvesting areas have been identified. These areas were assigned management categories according to ecological and cultural importance, need to conserve a renewable resource, and need to protect priority activities. As the Inuvialuit had already created a five-part classification system consistent with the classification system being used in developing the decision-support tool, their system of classification was adopted for the purposes of this project.

Low Sensitivity (1):

lands and waters where there are no known significant and sensitive cultural or renewable resources i.e., limited hunting interest. These were identified as Category A lands in the CCPs.

Low/Moderate Sensitivity (2):

lands and waters where there are cultural or renewable resources of some significance and sensitivity i.e., some hunting interest. These were identified as Category B lands in the CCPs.

Moderate Sensitivity (3):

lands and waters where cultural or renewable resources are of particular significance and sensitive to change during specific times of the year. These were identified as Category C lands in the CCPs. Provision of the Environmental and Cultural/Land Use Components of a Strategic Environmental Assessment for the Canadian Beaufort Sea

Moderate/High Sensitivity (4):

lands and waters where cultural or renewable resources are of particular significance and sensitivity throughout the year. These were identified as Category D lands in the CCPs.

High Sensitivity (5):

represents lands and waters where cultural or renewable resources are of extreme significance and sensitivity. These were identified as Category E lands in the CCPs. This category recommends the highest degree of protection; there shall be no development on these areas.

Summary

The hunting of polar bears, beluga whales, ringed seals, and migratory birds were identified as crucial socio-economic and cultural components. This is true for the three Inuvialuit communities in the study area. These species are still consumed for food and used for clothing. The three communities continue to sustain their populations for subsistence harvest purposes. Industrial development, such as oil and gas activity, must not adversely effect the ability of northern aboriginal peoples to harvest wildlife.

References

See references used for Traditional Hunting information.