Innu hunting caribou despite ban, says chief
The Grand Chief of the Innu Nation says Innu in Sheshatshiu and Natuashish are not backing down on their plan to hunt animals from the George River caribou herd this year.
Chief Prote Poker said 149 caribou have already been shot and killed by Innu from Natuashish, and about 30 caribou have been hunted by Innu in Sheshatshiu.
In January, the Newfoundland and Labrador government banned hunting animals from the George River herd for the next five years in order to conserve the animals.
On Friday, justice officials confiscated a plane allegedly carrying nine caribou carcasses to Sheshatshiu.
But Poker said the Innu Innu don't recognize the government's authority in the ban on hunting caribou.
"It's not in our culture," said Poker. "We've been very cautious with the way we hunt caribou. We've been very conservative in how many caribou will kill. And we intend to kill 300 caribou. That was the decision that was made by the communities."
Innu hunting fewer caribou than usual
Poker said in a typical hunting season, Innu hunters would kill about 1,000 caribou.
He added that the meat from the caribou carcasses has been shared amongst residents in both Innu communities, with the intention that the meat goes to each community's elders.
Poker said the Innu are not being reckless and have no intention of wiping out the herd..
"There will be caribou for the next generation. We won't wipe them out. We're only taking 300 caribou out of, what did they say, 20,000?"
Poker said he has made it clear to Innu Nation members that they must stop hunting caribou when 300 animals have been killed.