Marketed NWT muskox hides return first thousands

Marketed NWT muskox hides return first thousands
Hides from muskox hunted by subsistence harvesters are now able to be sold through the NWT government to southern buyers.Photo: Francois Rossouw.

Harvesters who participated in the test run of a new muskox hide marketing program received over $10,700 in new revenue last month to help cover the costs of their subsistence hunt.

Modelled after the GNWT’s existing Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur program, which sells wild pelts trapped in the NWT at international auctions to support trappers, the muskox hide procurement program gives a further boost to the traditional economy by allowing subsistence harvesters to sell their hides to a southern market.

At a scale of $150-$250 per hide, depending on size, harvesters are given advances and bonuses based on the sale price.

“I’m running it just like a regular fur; in other words, we advance the hunter and then when we sell it we turn around and recover our advance and whatever’s left over, we give back to the harvester,” said Francois Rossouw, the manager of fur marketing and traditional economy for the territorial government.

Fifteen harvesters from Ulukhaktok participated in the pilot program, which started in April and ended mid-May. Those hunters turned in 41 cleaned, good quality hides, guaranteed to be sold to qiviut buyers in the south on a first come, first served basis.

“I basically have a guaranteed sale for every hide I get, which is good, so I bump it up a bit to cover our costs and make sure the hunter gets a little extra,” Rossouw said. “There’s no issue selling them.”

The expansion of the procurement program to include muskox hides is a way of ensuring subsistence hunters can share in the economic benefits of the traditional economy.

“It’s nice to be able to give them something back for what they’ve done,” Rossouw said. “We definitely stress that this is not just a hide hunt. Guys are going out and doing a subsistence harvest, getting meat, and there’s a value in the hide for them. Basically the way we look at it is it takes care of their fuel costs…We’re not promoting a commercial harvest in any way, shape or form, we’re just taking care of what’s available.”

The muskox hunt is now over and will start up again in the fall. Harvesters from all communities with access to muskox are able to participate.

“Folks in Paulatuk are able to be part of it, Sachs Harbour, Tuk, even Aklavik and possibly folks down in Norman Wells who also get muskox, too, can be part of it,” Rossouw said.

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