The Inuit have harvested muskox for subsistence for thousands of years. Muskox provide a great amount of food and a large, warm hide useful for bedding, blankets and shelter. Alternatively, the hide can be scraped and tanned into durable leather for clothing. The undercoat of the muskox fur, known as qiviut, can be spun into wool that is warmer, softer and more valuable than cashmere.
The muskox harvest occurs in March. The first priority is to ensure the communities have enough animals to sustain their needs. Only after this need has been met will local corporations and governing bodies allow local hunters to harvest the animals for commercial purposes.
Since 1981, an annual commercial harvest has taken place in Sachs Harbour on Banks Island in the NWT. In Nunavut, sporadic annual harvests have been conducted out of Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island where the animals also roam. A quota system is in place to ensure the muskox are not over harvested and the herds remain viable. The number of muskox tags available varies each year based on the population of the herds. Typically, only a few hundred animals are harvested each year, resulting in a very high demand for muskox meat, leather and fur.
A small number of muskox are also reserved for sport hunting. Visitors pay upwards of $5000 to be taken on a guided muskox hunt by local hunters.