Reindeer hunting in Greenland

Reindeer hunting in Greenland

Reindeer hunting in Greenland is of great importance to the Kalaallit (Greenland Inuit) and sporting hunters, both residents and tourists. Reindeer (Caribou) are an important source of meat, and harvesting them has always played an important role in the history, culture, and traditions of the Greenland Inuit. Controlled hunting is important for the welfare of reindeer, the quality of life for Inuit, and the preservation of tundra grazing areas. Therefore scientific research is regularly performed to determine the quotas needed to maintain a proper ecological balance. Reindeer hunting is a multifaceted and challenging experience involving potential risks as well as personal rewards.

Background

Reindeer hunting by humans has a very long history and caribou/wild reindeer "may well be the species of single greatest importance in the entire anthropological literature on hunting.""In North America and Eurasia the species has long been an important resource--in many areas "the" most important resource--for peoples inhabiting the northern boreal forest and tundra regions. Known human dependence on caribou/wild reindeer has a long history, beginning in the Middle Pleistocene (Banfield 1961:170; Kurtén 1968:170) and continuing to the present....The caribou/wild reindeer is thus an animal that has been a major resource for humans throughout a tremendous geographic area and across a time span of tens of thousands of years." Ernest S. Burch, Jr. [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-7316%28197207%2937%3A3%3C339%3ATCRAAH%3E2.0.CO%3B2-1&size=LARGE&origin=JSTOR-enlargePage The Caribou/Wild Reindeer as a Human Resource.] "American Antiquity", Vol. 37, No. 3 (Jul., 1972), pp. 339-368.]

In Greenland, wild reindeer have been hunted as a source of food, clothing, shelter, and tools by the Inuit - the indigenous peoples that populate the Arctic and colder regions. Methods that they have employed include crossbow, bow and arrow, snares, driving, trapping pits, driving them off cliffs or into lakes and then spearing them from kayaks, and now using modern firearms. The entire reindeer, including fur, skin, antlers, and bones have been used. Their meat, viscera, internal organs, and even stomach contents, have all been utilized as food, both raw, dried, smoked, and cooked. Today reindeer are primarily hunted by residents and tourists for their meat, but mature animals with large antlers may also be the objects of trophy hunting.

In Greenland more reindeer are harvested than any other big game land mammal species. Reindeer meat is an important staple in most households, and the populace waits with great anticipation for the autumn hunting season to begin. It is an opportunity to stock up the kitchen pantry and freezer with meat for the coming season and to enjoy the adventure of the hunt.

Game harvesting conditions in Greenland can be extreme, and the unpredictable can be hazardous to hunters. Greenland is large and long with differing hunting customs and regulations, as well as weather patterns, depending on the region and season. The Greenland wilderness is sensitive and hunters are expected to respect it and "leave nothing but footprints."

Inuit identity: hunting and reindeer

Cultural status of the hunting experience

Hunting has always been an extremely important aspect of the Greenland Inuit culture:

: "The Inuit culture is the most pure hunting culture in existence. Having adapted to the extreme living conditions in the High Arctic of the North American continent for at least four thousand years, Inuit are not even hunter-gatherers. Inuit are hunters, pure and simple." (Henriette Rasmussen, Minister in Greenland Home Rule Government)Rasmussen H. [http://earthcharterinaction.org/pdfs/TEC-ENG-PDF/ENG-Rasmussen.pdf Sustainable Greenland and Indigenous Ideals.] Henriette Rasmussen, Minister of Culture, Education, Science and Church of the Government of Greenland.]

Even today hunting's importance is confirmed by the Greenland Home Rule Government:

: "Hunting is the heart and soul of .... Hunting is also very important from a cultural perspective. In a society such as Greenland, which for centuries was based on subsistence hunting (until about fifty years ago), hunting is still of great cultural importance. Irrespective of the fact that most live like wage-earners in a modern industrial society, many Greenlanders identity is still deeply rooted in the hunting." [http://www.nanoq.gl/English/Sustainable_use/State_of_the_living_resources_in/Hunting_in_Greenland.aspx Hunting in Greenland.] - Greenland Home Rule Government]

Reindeer hunting has a special status in the hearts of the populace. Shooting a muskox provides four times as much meat as a reindeer, but "Greenlanders would much rather have caribou or reindeer meat than musk ox meat," says Josefine Nymand. [http://glwww.mst.dk/udgiv/Publications/2001/87-7944-977-8/html/kap11_eng.htm Caribou and muskoxen are meat and adventure.] - The Danish-Greenlandic Environmental Cooperation]

: "But the experience is just as important [as the meat] . It is simply the most wonderful part of the year. The trips in for the caribou hunt in the beautiful autumn weather have a great social and physical meaning for people's wellbeing. It has many functions." (Peter Nielsen, Head of Office at the Ministry of Environment and Nature)

Inuit welfare and hunting culture

The long history of mutual dependence between humans and reindeer necessitates continuing efforts to safeguard their relationship and the welfare of both parties. Reindeer hunting – which is also commonplace in many other parts of the world – is considered so vital to the cultural heritage of certain groups that there is an attempt [http://www.villreinfangst.no/eng/fagligbg.php?id=9 Reindeer hunting as world heritage: A ten thousand year-long heritage.] - Reindeer hunting as world heritage] [http://www.villreinfangst.no/eng/about.php?id=6 About the project.] - Reindeer hunting as world heritage] [http://www.villreinfangst.no/eng/nyheter_p.php?id=22 Børge Brende to chair the World Heritage.] - Reindeer hunting as world heritage] being made to get it placed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. [http://whc.unesco.org/en/list UNESCO's World Heritage List.] - UNESCO]

The identity of the Inuit is closely tied to their geography, history and their attitudes toward hunting – "For Inuit, ecology, hunting and culture are synonymous."Wenzel G. "Animal Rights, Human Rights: Ecology, Economy and Ideology in the Canadian Arctic" (1991).] – and their identity as hunters is under attack. Those attacks are "... viewed in the Arctic as a direct assault on culture, identity as well as sustainable use," [http://www.edt.gov.nu.ca/sealing/ethics.htm Ethics and morality.] - Dept. of Economic Development and Transportation, Nunavut Territory] and Inuit are reacting:

: "... for the Inuit, animal rights campaigns are just the latest in a long litany of religious, industry, and government policies imposed by outsiders – policies which ignore Inuit values and realities, and threaten the survival of one of the world's last remaining aboriginal hunting cultures."Alan Herscovici. [http://ncseonline.org/nae/docs/inuit_and_ban.html Forgotten Story: The impact of "animal-rights" campaigns on the Inuit.] - National Council for Science and the Environment]

Therefore the circumpolar peoples and their organizations are actively engaged in attempts to protect their welfare, identity, interests, and culture, including their hunting culture. The "Kuujjuaq Declaration" [http://www.inuit.org/index.asp?lang=eng&num=220 The Kuujjuaq Declaration.] - Inuit Circumpolar Conference] addressed perceived attacks on their autonomy and rights, and recommended that the Inuit Circumpolar Conference "undertake a comprehensive study on how best to address global forces, such as the 'animal rights' and other destructive movements that aim to destroy Inuit sustainable use of living resources, and to report back to the next General Assembly on its findings." [http://www.inuitcircumpolar.com/files/uploads/icc-files/gaproceedings02final.pdf Kuujjuaq Declaration:] Proceedings of ICC's 9th General Assembly, 11 - 16 August 2002. Inuit Circumpolar Conference (Canada)] The International Arctic Science Committee shares these viewpoints and therefore one of its objectives is to study the "sustainable use of living resources of high value to Arctic residents." [http://www.proclim.ch/PCInfoSyst.acgi$Detail_Program?iasc Objectives of International Arctic Science Committee.] - ProClim: Forum for Climate and Global Change; Forum of the Swiss Academy of Sciences]

Reindeer welfare, sustainability, and quotas

Biologists and research scientists are aware of these objectives and they constantly monitor the welfare, living conditions, and health of reindeer, as well as the ecological health of their habitat, and they make recommendations and set quotas designed to ensure that game resources and natural biodiversity are protected, managed, and maintained.Scientists elsewhere do the same thing: "To guarantee rational use of this population and meet interests of both Taimyr and Evenki Autonomous Areas, federal bodies are responsible for fixing science-substantiated quotas for wild reindeer hunting." [http://www.caspianenvironment.org/biodiversity/rus/part27.htm] ] Christine Cuyler. [http://www.sami.uit.no/srh/appendix.pdf Appendix B: Greenland Caribou / Reindeer.] - Greenland Institute of Natural Resources] L. Christine Cuyler & Lars Witting. [http://www.natur.gl/UserFiles/File/Raadgivninger/Pat%20og%20fugle/Rensdyr/dk/eng/Caribou%20advice%2015.05.2006.pdf Caribou harvest advice 2006.] - Greenland Institute of Natural Resources] Many factors, some of them difficult to measure or predict, are analyzed including natural cycles, parasites, disease, short-term weather conditions (relative harshness of winter or summer), long-term climate changes, and condition of food sources. Hunting is far from the only factor affecting reindeer welfare, but it is one area that can be managed to some degree.

Since reindeer in southwestern Greenland have no naturally occurring non-human predators,Christine Cuyler. [http://www.sami.uit.no/srh/appendix.pdf Appendix B: Greenland Caribou / Reindeer.] "The primary distribution, 74 percent of total abundance, is in West Greenland (61°-69°N), which may by roughly identified as the southern half of Greenland’s west coast. No wolves (Canis lupus) or other potential predators (non-human) have existed in West Greenland for at least the last few hundred years." - Greenland Institute of Natural Resources] Cuyler, "et al". [http://www.natur.gl/UserFiles/File/Publlikationer/2005-Technical-Report%2061.pdf Status of two West Greenland Caribou populations 2005.] "Caribou (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus) have no natural predators in WestGreenland, and none have existed for several hundred years (Dawes et al. 1986). When combined with their high fertility (Cuyler & Østegaard 2005) and recruitment (Cuyler et al. 2002, 2003, 2004), this would suggest that overabundance may be their greatest threat. Several boom and crash cycles of caribou in West Greenland have been noted since the 1700’s (Vibe 1967, Meldgaard 1986), and recent population estimates are the highest ever documented, indicating that a new crash might be expected in the near future." - Technical Report No. 61, 2005. Greenland Institute of Natural Resources] harvesting quotas are established to help regulate the number of reindeer in an area and prevent overgrazing and death from starvation. The effort of pawing down (known as "cratering")"In the winter, the fleshy pads on these toes grow longer and form a tough, hornlike rim. Caribou use these large, sharp-edged hooves to dig through the snow and uncover the lichens that sustain them in winter months. Biologists call this activity “cratering” because of the crater-like cavity the caribou’s hooves leave in the snow." [http://www.taiga.net/projectcaribou/pdf/allaboutcaribou.PDF All About Caribou.] - Project Caribou] [http://www.arcticphoto.co.uk/stories/avkas/ry0246-32.htm Image of reindeer cratering in snow.] ] through the snow to their favorite food (a lichen known as reindeer moss) during the winter can cost them too many calories in expended energy to find enough food to survive, causing them to lose strength and die.Bror Saitton. [http://www.rangifer.no/norge/abstracts-2002-o.html Sammendrag av foredrag ved NORs 12. nordiske forskningskonferanse om rein og reindrift.] - Nordic Council for Reindeer Husbandry Research (NOR)] [http://www.physorg.com/news8929.html Overpopulation of reindeer in Greenland, 2005.] - UPI, Dec. 9, 2005. PhysOrg.com] [http://www.stamps.gl/NR/rdonlyres/C6DAD0F1-609B-4F85-8024-1F69226BE25F/0/Collector03_03Engelsk.pdf Reindeer hunting in Greenland.] - PITU, no. 1, September 2002, pp. 15-16. Grønlands Naturinstitut (Nature Institute of Greenland).] Without human intervention, mass starvation of reindeer would be a recurring problem.

Harvesting recommendations are also based on other prognostic factors, among them estimates of reindeer population density and total population in various regions, and availability of adequate food sources.Interesting demo programs for estimating populations. [http://www.taiga.net/top/caribou.html Porcupine Caribou Population Model: Demo Versions.] - Taiga Net, operated by the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Society] Since these estimates are difficult to make and can vary over time for each region, the recommendations and quotas are constantly adapted to the local needs, sometimes quite radically. Greenland's reindeer population has historically fluctuated widely. For example, it numbered around 100,000 in the early 1970s and then (was believed to have) dropped to 9,000 in 1993.Baldursson S. [http://www.uarctic.org/mod10_sEWi9.pdf.file Living Terrestrial Resources of the Arctic and Their Use.] - Snorri Baldursson, Assistant Director General, Icelandic Institute of Natural History, University of the Arctic] Regulations reflected these mistaken (and hotly debated) estimates and harvesting was suspended from the summer of 1993 until the autumn of 1995, whereupon hunting was once again allowed. [http://www.natur.gl/filer/Nr.16-1998-Gr%C3%B8nlandske_fugle_havpattedyr_og_landpattedyr.pdf Grønlandske fugle, havpattedyr og landpattedyr - en status over vigtige ressourcer] 1. oktober 1998. Teknisk rapport nr. 16, oktober 1998. Pinngortitaleriffik, Grønlands Naturinstitut]

The suspension of hunting in 1993-1995 was hotly debated and "created much public anger." Hunter's local knowledge contradicted the estimates and a survey in 2000-2001 confirmed their claims. Quotas were then radically increased and the hunting season was lengthened: "In an effort to reduce caribou number and density, open harvests were continued in 2003, 2004 and 2005."

In 2005, improved counting methods revealed that the previous estimates had indeed been misleading and that the population density was far too high, with 3-4 caribou per km², rather than the preferred 1.2 per km². In 2006 the numbers were estimated to be more than 100,000, which was still too many animals. [http://www.greenland.com/content/english/tourist/nature_climate/fauna_of_greenland/the_greenlandic_reindeer/the_propagation_of_reindeer_in_greenland The propagation of reindeer in Greenland.] - Greenland Tourism and Business Council] It is feared that the overpopulation can lead to increased mortality of calves, damage to feeding grounds, and to a population crash:

:"Independent of climate and genetics, caribou calf mortality increases with high population density and grazing pressure.... [O] ver-abundance of caribou on the range may be a current problem, which may soon become an acute problem. Unfortunately, it is unknown how much longer the present range can continue to support the current caribou numbers. If the herds are allowed to continue status quo or increase further there is a clear risk of lasting damage to ranges. If the ranges are destroyed, caribou stocks can be expected to crash.

Clearly scientists and hunters must continue to work together for the best good of all concerned parties: the reindeer, the hunters, the general populace of Greenland, and the very sensitive and vulnerable range grounds, since Greenland's tundra is more sensitive than elsewhere in the Arctic due to the ever present Greenland ice sheet. The ever-present ice sheet acts like an open refrigerator door and influences the growth of vegetation along the coastal regions, making recovery a slow process.

Reindeer

Reindeer (or Caribou) [http://cerfs.free.fr/english/identite-e.php3?genus=Rangifer Identity card for "Rangifer" (Reindeer/Caribou).] One species, 9 sub-species (three of which are in Greenland).] (also called "tuttu" by the Greenlandic Inuit [Jerry McCarthy. [http://www.geocities.com/jerry_mccarthy_uk/grnvocab.pdf Greenlandic word list.] Reindeer are called "tuttu" (pl "tuttut") by Greenland Inuit.] and "rensdyr" or "rener" by Danes) are the only deer species in which both sexes have antlers. Greenland animals can vary considerably in size, with females weighing up to 90 kg (198 lb) and the males 150 kg (331 lb). Other species of reindeer can be larger or smaller. In Greenland both sexes may be hunted. Although they have antlers, they do not normally use them against humans, even when backed into a corner. Their only defense against humans is to pull away or flee, often uphill. Males use their antlers when sparring against each other, and reindeer may use them as a last resort to defend themselves and their young against predators such as wolvesDawes, Elander, Ericson [http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic39-2-119.pdf The Wolf (Canis lupus) in Greenland: A Historical Review and Present Status.] Peter R. Dawes, Magnus Elander and Mats Ericson. "Arctic", vol. 39, no. 2 (June 1986) p. 119-132] (although wolves present no threat in southwestern Greenland).

Tame reindeer are known to be curious, but even wild reindeer can be curious in some situations.Jeremy Schmidt. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EPG/is_n3_v29/ai_16657933 Reindeer round-up - life of nomads who herd reindeer in Mongolia.] - "Ranger Rick", March, 1995] Images and descriptions of curious wild reindeer: [http://www.digitalnature.org/svalbard%2014.html] [http://www.digitalnature.org/svalbard%2021.html] ] "A yearling, or one-year-old, in the fall still has a rather small body compared to the adults and can be exceptionally curious." [http://www.taiga.net/pcmb/documents/teachers_manual_01.pdf Porcupine Caribou Teachers' Manual] , Unit 1: Awareness and Appreciation] [http://www.arcticphoto.co.uk/stories/avkas/ry0019-27.htm Image of a curious (tame) reindeer calf.] ] The wild reindeer is a shy animal and it reacts very quickly to sudden sounds or movements as well as the smell of strangers. [http://www.greenland.com/content/english/tourist/nature_climate/fauna_of_greenland/the_greenlandic_reindeer The Greenlandic reindeer.] - Greenland Tourism and Business Council] In spite of this, inexperienced animals may even approach quite closely to a hunter and curiously observe while the hunter is field dressing a downed animal. They have good hearing and a good sense of smell, but have poor eyesight. They may react to a hunter's movements, but not necessarily to his form if he doesn't move."Sight and sound are less important senses for caribou when assessing danger. Sometimes caribou appear not to be disturbed by people who are standing still. However, caribou are very good at detecting movement, even in poor light...Caribou are more curious than other North American deer species. If they haven't been able to verify something as having the scent of danger, they will often move closer to investigate it." [http://www.taiga.net/projectcaribou/pdf/allaboutcaribou.PDF All About Caribou.] - Project Caribou] Under the right conditions, a stealthy hunter may be able to approach surprisingly close to a reindeer, even when the hunter is in full sight of the animal. Many animals are shot at relatively close range (10-50 meters).

Three subspecies in Greenland

Three subspecies [http://www.natur.gl/filer/Nr.16-1998-Gr%C3%B8nlandske_fugle_havpattedyr_og_landpattedyr.pdf Grønlandske fugle, havpattedyr og landpattedyr - en status over vigtige ressourcer,] 1. oktober 1998. Teknisk rapport nr. 16, oktober 1998. Pinngortitaleriffik, Grønlands Naturinstitut] of reindeer live in western Greenland:

* The most common variety of reindeer in Greenland is the native wild Barren-ground Caribou ("Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus"), which is a medium sized race of reindeer and is also found in Canada.

* The second type are the feral semi-domestic reindeer ("Rangifer tarandus tarandus"), brought from Norway in 1952. They are larger and were first introduced at a game reserve in the Kapisillit region of Godthåb's fjord. They were herded by Sami herders,Fakta om Grønland (facts about Greenland) [http://www.napa.gl/pdf/fakta-grl.pdf Erhverv og næringsliv: Fiskeri, fangst og jagt.] - Nordens Institut i Grønland] with controlled harvesting and meat preparation in a now-abandoned slaughterhouse at Itinnera. [http://www.arktiskebilleder.dk/siulleq/album/sted_1159338_1.html Images from Itinnera: Renavlsstation nær bygden Kapisillit.] - Arktiske Billeder: Siulleq] Ole Holbech. [http://holbech.org/thumbnails.php?album=31 Itinnera images, 1976] ] "Later animals from Kapisillit were released at several more locations to establish feral populations, which might support a hunting harvest. There is evidence for genetic mixing of native caribou and feral reindeer at some of the locations where reindeer were released."Jepsen B.I.; Siegismund H.R.; Fredholm M. [http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/klu/coge/2002/00000003/00000004/05088931 Population genetics of the native caribou ("Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus") and the semi-domestic reindeer ("Rangifer tarandus tarandus") in Southwestern Greenland: Evidence of introgression.] - "Conservation Genetics", Volume 3, Number 4, 2002, pp. 401-409(9)]

* A third type of reindeer that may possibly belong to the Peary Caribou subspecies ("Rangifer tarandus pearyi"), are smaller and fewer in number, and live in northwestern Greenland.Greffard MC. [http://biology.mcgill.ca/undergra/c465a/biodiver/2000/peary-caribou/peary-caribou.htm Peary Caribou ("Rangifer tarandus pearyi")] - McGill University, December 2000]

Reindeer hunting

Practical details

Two main types of hunters are involved in harvesting reindeer: licensed commercial hunters and private resident sporting hunters, with tourists, trophy hunters, and research scientists harvesting a few more animals.

Transportation to and from hunting areas is nearly always done by boat. The rest of the transportation is by foot. If the hunting area is far inland, it may involve carrying equipment to a lake, and then transporting it across the lake to a campsite using a smaller type of boat, such as a rowboat, canoe (including collapsible models), or a rubber inflatable boat. Some lakes have boats permanently left (or hidden in the bushes) near the shores, and they are sometimes used by hunters (not necessarily the owners) who frequent the area.

In 2006 the only hunting weapons allowed for reindeer harvesting were bolt action, non-automatic rifles, using .222 Remington caliber cartridges or larger.Lars Bjørknæs. [http://www.retssal.dk/billeder/18181995.doc Grønlands lovsamling 2006.] - Hjemmestyrets bekendtgørelse nr. 18 af 18. juli 1995 om fredning af og jagt på rensdyr.] A good, large rifle scope is important, as shots at longer distances may be necessary, and visibility may be poor because of snowfall, fog, or limited lighting levels. Folding or fixed-blade hunting knives are necessary for many purposes. Binoculars with large objective diameter are used to spot prey at great distances, sometimes in waning light.

Rifles (both bolt action and semi-automatic) of other calibers, shotguns, and other types of weapons may be used for other game such as ptarmigan, Arctic Hares, and arctic foxes, which are often encountered during a reindeer hunt.

Regulations and hunting licenses

Harvesting is governed by regulations and requires a hunting license indicating the number of animals to be harvested, as well as post-hunting reporting of results (a jawbone with teeth). Such licenses can be obtained by those who have established two years of residency. (Special arrangements are made for tourists and trophy hunters.) Information should be sought and licenses obtained (by application and payment) from the local municipality.

Airplanes, helicopters, and other motorized vehicles (such as snowmobiles), [http://knr.gl/index.php?id=183&type=98&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=19906&cHash=70c3b54c53 Rensdyrjagt fra snescooter er forbudt.] Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa, Greenland National Broadcasting Company, 11. February 2007] are not allowed to be used for hunting or transport (on land) of animals or hunters. Boats are allowed for transport to and from hunting areas. A lead identification tag must be attached to the carcass until it is sold or used. The meat is owned by the hunter and no extra fees are charged for it.

In 2006 the open season extended from August 10 - September 15. In exceptional cases the dates can be changed, for example periods of bad weather and too much ice, resulting in a lengthening of the season. [http://www.ger.gl/Home/Groenlands_Landsstyre/Direktoratet_for_Miljoe_og_Natur/Nyheder/Forlaengelse_af_jagtperiode_Paamiut_Kommune.aspx Forlængelse af jagtperiode] ] Winter hunting is an option for those specially licensed as commercial hunters (normally reserved for Inuit residents).

Game preparation and transport

Once downed, a reindeer should be quickly field dressed by removing the viscera. The skin, head, and viscera are often discarded and left for consumption by foxes, ravens, and other birds. The meat should then be kept cool to minimize decomposition and should also be protected from flies by the use of mesh game bags, and any fly eggs (very visible) and maggots should be removed immediately.Willy Zimmer. [http://www.casperstartribune.net/articles/2004/09/23/features/open_spaces/efd7bf39fa69794c87256f17002103d6.txt The tough stuff.] - "Casper Star-Tribune", September 23, 2004, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation] Marty Prokop. [http://www.afroarticles.com/article-dashboard/Article/How-to-Field-Dress-a-Deer/5000 How to Field Dress a Deer] ] The cool climate means that the meat can be kept out in the open longer than in warmer climates, therefore a hunting expedition can last several days without a serious loss of meat quality. Once home again, the meat can be hung and aged for a few days before further processing.E. Dan Klepper. [http://www.tpwmagazine.com/archive/2005/nov/ed_3/ Hang'em High.] - Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, November 2005] Carrying a reindeer over a long distance in rugged mountainous terrain can be difficult and very strenuous. (More than five kilometers each way is not uncommon.) If it is very large, it may only be possible to transport one half at a time. In Greenland reindeer meat is commonly carried over the shoulders,Images showing transportation of meat: [http://www.123hjemmeside.dk/taita/2072053?i=4563039] [http://www.arteam.dk/jagt/html/transport.html] [http://www.arteam.dk/jagt/html/koeller.html] [http://www.aaens.dk/images/Hjem_med_rendyr_pa_ryg.jpg] ] possibly tied to a backpack frame or carried on the back with support from a headband (the method preferred by Inuit). Unskinned game may also be dragged on snow, or allowed to slide down steep, snow-covered hillsides, thus saving a lot of work and freeing the hands for support while climbing downwards.

Hunting methods

There are several methods that can be used (often in combination) for harvesting reindeer:

* Asking is seeking the advice of an experienced reindeer hunter.
* Scouting is a variety of tasks and techniques for finding reindeer to hunt.
** Glassing is the use of optical instruments (such as binoculars) to locate animals more easily.
* Blind or Stand hunting is waiting where reindeer are likely to travel.
* Camouflage hunting is concealing oneself visually to blend in with the environment, for example using a white anorak in snowy weather.
* Still hunting is the practice of walking stealthily in search of animals.
* Stalking is the practice of walking stealthily in pursuit of identified animals.
* Tracking is interpreting and following physical evidence in the pursuit of animals.
* Drive hunting is flushing reindeer toward other hunters.

Note: "Loose dogs, dog driving, and coursing are not allowed."

Hunting conditions in Greenland

A reindeer hunt can be a short afternoon outing without much equipment, or a week-long affair with all the equipment that such an endeavor requires. New hunters may experience a form of "culture shock"Colin Fletcher, in "The Complete Walker"] the first time they enter the wilderness, and may require mental "acclimatization" when returning to civilization. It may feel like a fleeting period of mental confusion, similar to the "sea legs" felt by inexperienced boaters.

Reindeer harvesting can be done in groups or alone, with lone hunting generally requiring extra safety precautions. While reindeer harvesting is usually a pleasant experience and the following problems may never be encountered, it can also be exhausting and does entail some degree of safety risk. Good hygiene and adequate hydration can limit infections, diarrhea, and gastroenteritis. A small first aid kit is ideally carried when away from the campsite or boat, and preparations are made for the various hazards of outdoor activities. The terrain can be hilly, mountainous, uneven, stony, with hidden crevices or holes. It may also be marshy, muddy, and wet. It may be necessary to cross streams and rivers, and slippery rocks present a hazard. If there is snow and ice, there can be cornices, crevasses, and avalanches, although snow can make it easier to spot and track reindeer.

The weather during the beginning of the autumn hunting season is often pleasant, relatively warm, and mild, but it can change very quickly. Hunters may encounter fog, rain, wind, and winter conditions. Occasionally, the situation can quickly approach a worst-case scenario with events such as katabatic winds, storms, snow, hail, sleet, freezing rain, blizzards, and polar cyclones, even in the late summer. Lack of preparation can have fatal consequences.

Using a compass in Greenland involves accounting for a very radicalThe magnetic declination between the North Pole and Nuuk is 37.2 ° W (Sep 1992) [http://www.glv.gl/greenland/nuuk/data.htm] ] magnetic declination. Failure to calculate correctly can send a hunter in the wrong direction, leading to complete loss of bearings. Getting lost in bad weather can waste precious time, forcing the hunter to overnight in very wet, cold, and unpleasant conditions. Hypothermia can further complicate matters and decrease their ability to think clearly, causing them to lose their bearings even more. A fight for survival may then ensue. Deaths are relatively rare, but they do happen.

See also

* Arctic Council
* Culture of Greenland
* Deer hunting
* International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation
* Inuit Circumpolar Council
* Nujalik - The goddess of hunting on land.
* Polar Bear hunting
* Tekkeitsertok - The master of caribou.
* Trophy hunting

Notes and references

Notes

* Muus, B., F. Salomonsen and C. Vibe, 1990. "Grønlands fauna (Fisk, Fugle, Pattedyr)". Gyldendalske Boghandel, Nordisk Forlag A/S København, 464 p. (in Danish).
* [http://www.natur.gl/print.asp?lang=gl&num=328 Dr. Christine Cuyler] - Research scientist, reindeer expert, extensive list of publications
* [http://www.uarctic.org/mod4_d25yI.pdf.file Peoples of the Reindeer.] - Michel Bouchard, University of the Arctic

External links

* [http://arcticcentre.ulapland.fi/docs/ACIA_Chap12.pdf Hunting, Herding, Fishing, and Gathering: Indigenous Peoples and Renewable Resource Use in the Arctic] - Mark Nuttall, et al
* [http://www.rangifer.net/rangifer/index.cfm Human Role in Reindeer Systems] - Rangifer.net (U. of Alaska, Fairbanks)
* [http://www.rangifer.net/rangifer/monitoring/index.cfm Monitoring program: Rangifer as an indicator of change in the circumpolar arctic] - Rangifer.net (U. of Alaska, Fairbanks)
* [http://www.greenland.com/content/english/tourist?keyword=reindeer English articles on reindeer] - Greenland Tourism and Business Council website search
* [http://www.rudyfoto.com/grl/greenlandpage1.html Greenland: The Last Great Place] - Rudy Brueggemann's Guide To Kalaallit Nunaat
* [http://www.cls.fr/html/argos/wildlife/high_feb_en.html Dr. Christine Cuyler describes how she equips a reindeer while driving a snowmobile.]
* [http://www.taiga.net/projectcaribou/index.html Project Caribou: An educator's guide] - Yukon Department of Environment


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