A Nunavut government report on country food suggests a number of other species could be harvested instead of caribou.

It says some populations of muskoxen in the Kitikmeot could likely support a bigger harvest. It also suggests snow geese, and in some parts of the Kivalliq and Kitikmeot, moose.

Wildlife officials said more data is needed on ptarmigan, ground squirrel and arctic hare populations before recommending larger-scale harvests of those animals.


Ed McKenna, of the Nunavut Anti-Poverty Secretariat, says the report shows it’s important to be cautious about overharvesting, even though caribou is a central part of many people’s diets. (CBC)

The government's Environment Department recently put together the report for the Nunavut Anti-Poverty Secretariat. The organization runs the new country food distribution program, and provides subsidies to hunt country food.

Ed McKenna, director of the Secretariat, said people have been concerned about declining caribou populations because the animal is a central part of a traditional diet.

The report said many herds in Nunavut may already be over-hunted.  Other herds have not been counted, so their numbers are unknown.

"The main point of this report is to raise a red flag about caribou populations and to ensure that we don't find ourselves in a position where we're actually subsidizing unsustainable harvesting. Now, we've not been in that position, and we certainly won't be now," McKenna said.

Recently, the Nunavut government, announced a new quota of 1,000 animals for Southampton Island caribou harvested in Coral Harbour. The decision was made after studies showed the herd declined from 30,000 in 1997 to 7,800 in 2011.