Igloolik hunters want faster walrus meat tests

Hunters in Igloolik say they need a better way to test walrus meat for trichinosis rather than sending meat away to Nunavik.

Ask for local trichinosis testing instead of sending meat to Nunavik

Hunters in Igloolik say they need a better way to test walrus meat for trichinosis.

Last week, Nunavut Health officials urged hunters to have fresh walrus meat tested, after at least one case of infection with the parasite was confirmed, and several other people reported symptoms.

Right now, samples of fresh meat are sent to Kuujuaq, Que., for testing. Hunters say it is a time-consuming and difficult process for harvesting.

"Maybe it's an idea we have use to start our own testing in our communities so we do not have to wait to get results back from the testing stations that are far away," said David Irngaut, a board member with the Igloolik Hunters and Trappers Organization.

"Inuit like to eat fresh raw meat and we should have this option already. It is not good for the hunters or the meat to have to wait."

He said testing stations in communities should be mandatory, as it would allow animals to be monitored for disease and contamination. He said that's especially important as more ship traffic is expected in Arctic waters if the proposed Mary River mine opens.  

As of Monday, the Department of Health and Social Services said there have been no more confirmed cases of trichinosis since last week but officials are still urging people to cook all untested walrus meat thoroughly to kill the parasite.