Yukon approves Fortymile caribou herd hunt but one local chief cries foul

Barrenground caribou in the Yukon. (Photo by Don Russell and courtesy of WWF-Canada.)

The Yukon Government has approved a licensed harvest on the Fortymile caribou herd.

That follows a recommendation from the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board.

The season opened on New Year’s day and runs until March 31.

According to a news release from the Yukon government, the herd has grown from a population low of 6,500 to an estimated 84,000 caribou, which it says can now support a sustainable harvest that is in line with long-term conservation efforts.

A total of 225 permits will be available to eligible Yukon resident hunters.

Permits can be obtained in person at any open Department of Environment office throughout the territory.

A spokesperson for the Yukon Government confirms hunters from the Northwest Territories would not be able to apply for a permit.

Meanwhile, according to one media report, the decision to open the hunt this winter is not sitting well with Tr’ondek Hwech’in Chief Roberta Joseph.

The Canadian Press reports that the Dawson City-area chief says the territory acted unilaterally and prematurely, since the First Nation has yet to sign off on a harvest management plan for the herd that’s still being negotiated.

Joseph adds that a plan would include details such as timing, geographic areas and the allowable harvest for a particular hunting season.

The government release states that for 25 years, the Government of Yukon has worked together with Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, the Dawson District Renewable Resources Council and the State of Alaska to recover the Fortymile caribou herd.

Yukon Environment Minister Pauline Frost says the government is pleased to accept the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board recommendation to offer Fortymile caribou harvesting opportunities to licensed Yukon resident hunters.

“This follows 25 years of recovery efforts and we are committed to continuing our work with partners to monitor the herd and ensure healthy, sustainable populations into the future,” Frost states. “We remind all hunters to show respect while hunting Fortymile caribou: share your harvest, don’t crowd other hunters and trappers, don’t pursue caribou on your snowmobile and always pack out what you pack in. I wish all hunters a safe and successful hunt.”

The Fortymile herd is mostly found in Yukon’s North and Alaska but it has migrated in the past as far south as the Whitehorse area.

Quick facts

  • The last licensed harvest on Fortymile caribou was in 1995.
  • To be eligible for one of the 225 permits, hunters must have a valid Yukon big game hunting licence and a caribou seal. Hunters who have already reached the bag limit for caribou this hunting season, April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020, are not eligible.
  • Permits for the Fortymile caribou hunt will be valid for 10 days and will be issued at intervals. For example, January 1 to 10, January 11 to 20, and so on. Twenty-five permits will be available for each interval.
  • Hunters must report the results of their hunt. If successful, they must also submit the caribou’s incisor bar within 72 hours of the permit end date

About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.