The herd population has dwindled by 95 per cent in 30 years, according to an Oct. 22 press release.
By: Avery Zingel
The Tłı̨chǫ government said it will not harvest the Bathurst Caribou, because its population has dwindled to three to four percent, according to the release..
“We have made this difficult choice as investment in our future,” said Grand Chief Eddie Erasmus.
The Tłı̨chǫ government is “determined” to help the herd recover, Erasmus said.
Erasmus says they will work with the territorial government and the Wek’èezhìi Renewable Resources Board to stabilize herd numbers.
Three decades ago, the herd had a population of almost half a million. That number has decreased to 16,000 to 22,000 animals, the release said.
“We applaud the Tłı̨chǫ Government for showing strong leadership in dealing with this crisis,” said Environment and Natural Resources Minister, Michael Miltenberger
It’s a, “tough choice” that will help “conserve the Bathurst herd for current and future generations,” Miltenberger said.
The calving grounds and migratory routes cross many First Nations across the N.W.T. and Nunavut.
The Tłı̨chǫ have announced their moratorium on harvesting the Bathurst.
Despite this effort, more factors may be causing herd decline, according to research and traditional knowledge shared at Friday’s Kitikmeot Caribou Workshop.
Hunters and trappers on managing threats to Caribou population
On Oct. 16, the Kitikmeot Inuit Association met with the ENR and hunters’ and trappers’ organizations from Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak, Kugaaruk, Umingmaktok, and Bathurst Inlet.
They discussed possible threats and data on caribou populations including predation by wolves, industry, hunting, climate change and noise pollution.
According to traditional knowledge, harvesting levels have stayed the same, said Barbara Adjun, Manager of the Kugluktuk Hunters’ & Trappers’ Organization.
ENR won’t rule out wolf-hunt
“We always hear about predators,” Adjun said, suggesting there should be studies about wolves and grizzlies.
“Everyone wants to protect predators and we have predator issues,” Adjun said.
Population surveys show a decline in breeding cow populations, according to Bruno Croft, of Environment and Natural Resources.
The low pregnancy rate could be linked to a poor ability to produce in June, Croft said.
The ENR would not rule out a review of the wolf cull in Alaska to see if a similar cull could be implemented in the territories, Croft said.
“We’re not going to shy away from it,” Croft said.