When Daniel Lalo posted a video of a recent caribou kill to Facebook, he says he was hoping to show the youth from his home community of Natashquan – 1,000 kilometres northeast of Quebec City – a traditional way to “finish off” an injured animal.
Except shortly after the video went up, he started to receive threats.
“I received death threats: ‘you should be hanged,’ ‘you should go to prison,’ you know?” Lalo, who owns a nature-adventure tourism company, explained in an interview with APTN’s Nouvelles Nationales.
“I took all of that and made copies [of the comments],” he added.
The original two-minute video, which has been removed from Lalo’s Facebook page, starts on the image of a wounded and bloodied caribou dragging itself across the snow.
Lalo enters the frame, striking the caribou over the head at least four times with the back of a hatchet until it goes still. He then puts his hatchet away and kneels next to the caribou for a photo.
Lalo said this method is used by most Innu hunters because it keeps the head intact and in ideal condition for later use.
He clarifies that a “kill shot” – or a shot inflicting near-fatal injury – was lodged in the beast’s shoulder before he dealt the final blows.
“When I was younger, I always followed the Elders,” Lalo explained. “They said all the time: when an animal is injured, you have to enclose it and finish it off with a hatchet, which is less damaging to the meat.”
Social media commentators, however, weren’t having it.
A repost of the original Facebook video amassed nearly 500 comments and over 800 shares after it was uploaded in early March.
Real Tettaut, chief of Natashquan, feels Lalo’s video shows a “lack of respect” for the caribou.
“All of the people – Elders and the rest of us – disagreed with the way that it was done,” Tettaut added.
“This is not the traditional way.”
Reaction also came in from Labrador residents and Inuit communities over concerns about over-hunting woodland caribou when population numbers are down.
Tettaut says he’ll soon be introducing a new caribou management plan for the community, one similar to what’s already in place for salmon fishing.
Lalo said that plan is long overdue.
“We’re conscious of the fact this herd is disappearing. But for ‘x’ number of years, our band councils or governments – all three tiers of government, either Quebec or Newfoundland or Canada – we’ve had meetings and nothing ever came of them,” Lalo said.