When an Inuvialuit hunter went out on the tundra with his spouse, he never expected to find a beaver so far north. He was planning to hunt wild geese. Instead, the hunter ended up harvesting the iconic rodent — his first ever.
“We saw something moving in the middle of the tundra. We glanced at it, we didn’t know what it was,” said Richard Gruben, vice-president of the Tuktoyaktuk Hunters and Trappers Association.
“Then we saw something walk toward us and it was a beaver. So I drove up to it and I shot it.”
Seeing beavers so far north is new for Inuvialuit like Gruben. Canada’s national animal and their pelts have been instrumental in the development of the country, but they’re not native to every part of Canada.
Biologists say beavers, over the past decade, have made their way to the Arctic coastline due a warming climate.
The beaver migration has caused problems for Inuvialuit fishermen in the Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., area because beavers are considered ecosystem engineers — a keystone species. That means they alter the habitat for themselves and other animals.
“We’re having some trouble with our fish-bearing creeks,” Gruben said.