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Moral & Sustainable Canine Sledding within the Arctic


As an organization that cares a lot for the pure setting and the varied animals that decision it house, we generally get requested why we embrace canine sledding on our Canadian polar bear journeys. We love having the chance to reply! It’s an exercise we now have vetted completely with our on-the-ground operators, and we stand robust in our choice to share this exercise with our vacationers. Right here’s why:

Not All Canine Sledding Experiences Are the Similar

There are horror tales of mushers who run their canines into the bottom, pushing them properly previous any wise restrict. We on no account assist this kind of remedy of any animal. However we’d put conscientious canine sledding in the identical class as using a horse by way of nature. Sustainable canine sledding is corresponding to working with animals on a conventional, sustainable farm. When the canines are handled kindly and with respect always, they work fortunately in concord with people. Canine physique language is fairly direct and simple to learn for many who spend plenty of time round them. In sustainable and moral canine sled operations, you may see for your self that the canines like to run and benefit from the canine sledding as a lot as we do.  

Dog sledding in Churchill, Canada

© Lianne Thompson

Sled Canine Are Uniquely Tailored for the Job

And it’s finest to not consider northern sled canines as the identical as different home canines. They’re uniquely tailored to thrive in harsh Arctic circumstances. They’ve a selected metabolism regulation and in addition fur between their toes to maintain ice from clumping on their paws as they run by way of the snow. And like many different Arctic animals, similar to polar bears, seals and Arctic fox, they’ve two coats of fur—an outer coat of coarse guard hairs over a thick, insulating undercoat. 

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Sustainable Canine Sledding Aligns With Our Dedication to the Planet

A well-managed canine sledding operation can supply vacationers sustainable entry to pristine settings with out polluting these environments. Within the Arctic, for instance, the carbon price of exploring by skidoo or snowmobile is clearly greater due to the necessity to burn fossil fuels. Because the world’s first 100% carbon-neutral journey firm, this is a matter we take very severely. Quietly gliding over the snow additionally has a lot much less detrimental influence on the wildlife that lives within the space we wish to go to. Loud motors can disrupt the breeding cycles of a variety of species, pressure them to flee conventional feeding grounds, or immediate them to go to floor when they need to be out searching or feeding.

We perceive many individuals routinely say it’s higher if folks simply don’t go to such pristine pure environments. And we do imagine in sustaining laws and management round tourism—however there are additionally many advantages to letting vacationers expertise the pure wonders of Earth. If folks can see for themselves the sweetness and fragility of nature, we expect they are going to be extra motivated to understand and shield it. 

Canine Sledding Is an Interactive Approach to Perceive Extra About Native Tradition

For the Inuit, Dene and Metis peoples of northern Manitoba and Nunavut the place we go to on our Churchill Polar Bear Excursions, working with sled canines is a central a part of their heritage. Indigenous cultures within the Arctic have lived in concord with sled canines (qimmiit in Inuktitut) for numerous generations; the truth is, sled canines have been used as a conventional mode of journey since 800 A.D. The canines pull qamutiik, conventional Inuit sleds, to move folks and cargo. As well as, the sled canines use their highly-attuned sense of scent to assist monitor down prey for searching events and in addition are very worthwhile in serving to to retrace routes misplaced beneath heavy snows.

Howling sled dog with white fur and bright blue beautiful eyes

© Brad Josephs

However in a tragic flip of occasions, Canadian Inuit canines (Canis familiaris borealis), almost confronted extinction by the mid-Nineteen Seventies. As Inuit have been forcibly relocated from their seasonal camps to everlasting settlements by the Canadian authorities, many individuals have been pressured to go away their canines (and nearly all of their different possessions) behind. After arriving within the settlements, 1000’s of canines have been shot by police and hunters, whereas many others died from illness as a result of newly shut quarters. Some folks imagine the Canadian authorities actively gathered and euthanized sled canines in an try to destroy the semi-nomadic conventional way of life of northern communities.

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Regardless, the devastating lack of their beloved sled canines did the truth is influence the standard lifestyle of Indigenous peoples, additional reducing them off from the nuna, Inuktitut for “the land.” With out the sled canines for transportation, many needed to abandon their seasonal searching grounds and ice fishing spots.

Just a few hundred sled canines have been left in northern Canada earlier than a restoration program stepped in to assist to deliver their numbers again up. The federal authorities issued a proper apology in 2019 for his or her actions, and as we speak, the Inuit governing physique of Canada’s latest territory, Nunavut, even has the qimmiq as their official animal image. Sled canines are as soon as once more capable of be an important a part of Inuit, Dene and Metis tradition.

How one can Make Positive Your Canine Sled Operator Is Moral

Two Nat Hab travelers smiling and petting a sled dog inside their shelter

© Jeremy Covert

We do our half to vet all of our on-the-ground guides and companions, however each traveler ought to be capable of do their very own homework and be ok with the actions they partake in. Just a few issues to think about when selecting a canine sled operator:

  • How are the canines handled yr spherical? It’s one factor to see them properly fed throughout the principle canine sledding season, however how are they handled the remainder of the yr? Some canines spend the summer season months in small cages or chained up—a particular purple flag for a breed that wants plenty of bodily exercise  to thrive.
  • How and what are the canines fed? The canines ought to seem robust and wholesome, not gaunt. Ideally, their weight loss program will embrace moral, regionally sourced meals.
  • Is there a robust connection between the canines and their handlers? It’s typically straightforward to see when a canine and handler have mutual respect.
  • Do the canines get enough relaxation time between runs? Ask! Accountable handlers hold a detailed eye on the work rotation to verify the canines get loads of time to relaxation and get well between runs.
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Expertise Sustainable Canine Sledding for Your self on One in all Our Arctic Adventures

On our Churchill Polar Bear Journeys, you’ll have the prospect to meet an area musher, go to with the canines, observe the staff as they put together for the run, then head out with them for an unforgettable journey by way of the boreal forest behind a contented and keen staff of canines. The Arctic tundra is a fully magical place the place polar bears meander, snowy owls soar within the moonlight and Arctic foxes roam. We don’t imagine it’s an exaggeration to say that an journey to this winter wonderland wouldn’t be full with out an genuine canine sled journey led by an area Metis musher.

Sled dog puppies in Canada

© Emily Kautz



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