The territorial government has responded to Łútsël K’é Dene First Nation’s (LKDFN) request for an investigation into what it called a “raid” at a culture camp earlier this week.
LKDFN issued a press release on the incident, saying officers searched tents, teepees, and confiscated meat. LKDFN says the officers’ actions were “aggressive and disrespectful.”
The press release acknowledged that the search was done to investigate a case of caribou harvested illegally.
The territorial government issued a statement attributed to Shane Thompson, minister of environment and natural resources (ENR), in response.
It said ENR officers responded on Sept. 12 to two reports from the public of an alleged instance of illegal harvesting within the Mobile Core Bathurst Caribou Management Zone.
“The site where ten caribou were harvested, was located within the Mobile Zone, and a significant amount of suspected wasted edible meat was identified,” reads the statement.
With the investigation ongoing, the statement gives few details on the incident at the culture camp, other than to say: “Two ENR officers went to the location at Timber Bay, where hunters were based, as part of their investigation, to execute a search warrant. ENR is aware that multiple videos were captured while the Officers were on site.”
The statement says the department “recognizes and supports the importance of traditional on the land activities, seasonal hunting camps, culture camps, and traditional lifestyles,” and that “ENR looks forward to continuing to engage with LKDFN on caribou conservation.”
However, it does not respond to LKDFN’s concerns with the officers’ conduct.
CKLB asked whether there would be an investigation into the incident.
“We cannot comment, beyond the information that has been provided, until the GNWT has gathered all of the necessary information,” said Ali Kincaid, manager of cabinet communications.
The Mobile Zone is meant to help protect Bathurst caribou. The size of the herd has plummeted since the 1980s, going from about 470,000 animals to 6,200.