You can use your smart phone to browse stories in the comfort of your hand. Simply browse this site on your smart phone.

    Using an RSS Reader you can access most recent stories and other feeds posted on this network.

    SNetwork Recent Stories

Jay Macdonald: Our Commitment to Caribou Stewardship

by ahnationtalk on February 22, 202445 Views

Mr. Speaker, barren-ground caribou are extremely important to the people, cultures, and communities of the Northwest Territories. They have supported northern Indigenous peoples from time immemorial, and it is important that we all work together to ensure caribou populations remain strong for future generations.

In recent years, many herds across the NWT have undergone significant declines, particularly the dramatic 99 percent decline in the size of the Bathurst herd. These changes are driven by multiple interacting factors, including harvest, predators and the impacts of a changing climate and environment. This is a serious concern as the Bathurst herd remains at extremely low levels, with the latest estimate at 6,850 caribou in 2022.

Mr. Speaker, last summer we got some positive news when we saw an increase in the size of the Bluenose-East caribou herd, which had undergone serious declines since 2010. After years of hard work with our co-management partners, the herd increased from 23,200 in 2021 to 39,500 in 2023.

Caribou management is a shared responsibility. The Government of the Northwest Territories has been working closely with Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations, renewable resources boards, the Government of Canada, neighbouring jurisdictions, industry, non-government organizations, and other partners to take strong conservation measures to protect caribou.

This collaborative work is being done as part of the NWT’s well-established wildlife co-management system, where everyone is at the table to help guide caribou management, conservation, and recovery.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Environment and Climate Change works with partners on key research, monitoring and management initiatives that rely on the best available local, Indigenous, and scientific knowledge. Population surveys are scheduled for July 2024 to assess the current status of the Bluenose-West, Cape Bathurst and Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula herds.

We are also supporting a wide range of caribou monitoring and guardian initiatives led by our co-management partners, implementing herd-specific management plans and meeting with partners every year to review the status of individual herds based on all available information. This approach has allowed us to make hard decisions and take strong actions together in the best interests of the caribou.

Mr. Speaker, with the winter harvest season now underway, it is important that we continue our work with Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations, renewable resources boards, and other partners to ensure safe and respectful harvest. While most people harvest safely, legally, and respectfully, a small number of people do not.

Environment and Climate Change hosted a meeting of respected harvesters in December 2021 with representatives from communities that traditionally harvest from the Bathurst herd. Participants provided eight recommendations to leaders from Indigenous governments and the GNWT, including the need for all parties to work together, support monitoring and guardian programs, enhance enforcement efforts and launch a public information campaign on respectful harvesting.

Mr. Speaker, it is our hope that this collaborative work will encourage the use of traditional harvesting practices and promote respect for the protections put in place to support collaboratively developed caribou conservation and recovery. Important conservation measures such as the Mobile Core Bathurst Caribou Management Zone are put in place in collaboration with our co-management partners.

Mr. Speaker, caribou are a vital part of the cultures, traditions, and social fabric of our communities. The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to working closely with all of our wildlife co-management partners to support the safe and respectful harvest of caribou, while ensuring compliance with collaboratively developed conservation measures, the Wildlife Act, and traditional practices and teachings: take only what you need; do not leave anything behind; share what you have when you get back to your community; and listen and learn from Elders.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Send To Friend Email Print Story

Comments are closed.

NationTalk Partners & Sponsors Learn More