‘We must act now.’ Don’t harvest reindeer herd, IRC urges

The Inuvik reindeer herd
The Inuvik reindeer herd. Mady MacDonald/Dreamstime

The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation this week warned beneficiaries, residents, and visitors not to harvest reindeer from the region’s well-known herd.

In a news release on Tuesday, the corporation said the herd is “struggling and requires immediate intervention and protection.”

The reindeer were introduced to the Beaufort Delta in the 1930s during a cyclical low in local caribou numbers – an issue the Northwest Territories is again experiencing in recent years.

As tourism in the territory grows, the herd has become a visitor attraction as well as a food source.



Duane Smith, chair and chief executive of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC), said: “Harvesting is a fundamental way of life for many members of our communities. However, we must respect that this is a private herd and it is not part of the harvesting rights acknowledged under the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.”

The IRC’s statement added: “IRC understands and respects that, in some instances, harvesters may be accessing the herd to provide for their dependents.

“Respectfully, if the reindeer are to benefit as many families as possible in the future, we must act now to preserve this herd at a critical mass.”

The IRC said it was working with the NWT’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources and RCMP to ensure the herd, managed locally by a company known as Canadian Reindeer, remained protected.

“These organizations will be monitoring the situation and reminding individuals that harvesting of the herd will not be allowed under any circumstances until further notice,” the corporation said.

“We ask for the support of everyone to help by respecting the health of the herd and by not harvesting or causing undue stress to any reindeer.”