Bowhead whale hunt coming to waters near Iqaluit this summer

It’s been seven years since the last bowhead whale was hunted and killed near Iqaluit, but a new hunt is planned for this summer.

Inuit and non-Inuit encouraged to participate in first hunt in Iqaluit since 2011

A bowhead whale in Cumberland Sound, Nunavut. For the first time in seven years, hunters in Iqaluit will hunt a bowhead this summer. (VDOS Global LLC )

It's been seven years since the last bowhead whale was hunted and killed near Iqaluit, but a new hunt is planned for this summer.

The Amarok Hunters and Trappers Association is encouraging hunters, volunteers and youth to sign up for the hunt. 

"In order to be successful we need to have Inuit participation — or even non-Inuit participation — into this harvest by means of assistance, helping financially … because it's going to cost money for fuel and everything else," said Ben Kovic, an Amarok Hunters and Trappers Association member.

Iqaluit hunters have not harvested a bowhead since 2011, when a 14-metre whale was killed by a group of more than 20 hunters.

But Kovic says getting the opportunity to hunt a bowhead does not guarantee a whale will be caught, even with the months of planning.

If a bowhead is killed and brought back to Iqaluit, some of the meat and muktuk (bowhead whale skin and blubber) will be shared with other communities.

A single whale can feed hundreds, and the whale hunt is a traditional part of Inuit culture. Prior to 2011, it had been more than 100 years since Inuit in Nunavut's capital city harvested a bowhead whale. The species had been off-limits to hunting for decades.

Whale numbers began to rebound in the mid-1990s. A licence is now required to take a bowhead whale.

A date has not yet been set for the summer hunt.

With files from Pauline Pemik