The WRRB Board members and staff held its summer Board meeting at the Tundra Ecosystem Research Station at Daring Lake on August 14-17, 2016. The agenda was a full one and included discussion on the upcoming Reasons for Decision reports, Part B, for the Bathurst and the Bluenose-East caribou herds. Also on the agenda were Action Plans for Bluenose caribou herds, the NWT Boreal Caribou Recovery Strategy, the Mackenzie Wood Bison, species at risk, and other matters.
Board members and staff meeting at the Tundra Ecosystem Research Station, Daring Lake. From left to right: Boyan Tracz, Wildlife Management Biologist, WRRB; Board members Suzanne Carrière, Steve Matthews, Grant Pryznyk (Chair) and Charlie Jeremick'ca; Dr. Allice Legat, Tłı̨chǫ knowledge advisor. Photo: Jody Pellissey, WRRB
The Board approved three Action Plans at its August meeting, one for each Bluenose caribou herd: the Cape Bathurst, Bluenose-West and Bluenose-East caribou. Planning is now at the stage where each Member Board went through its own land claim process to review and approve the plans. The Action Plans will be forwarded to the GNWT, Government of Nunavut and other Aboriginal Governments for implementation in early October 2016.
Tǫdzı (boreal caribou) need large areas of undisturbed habitat to thrive. But the amount of secure habitat available to these caribou has been decreasing in Canada as a result of human-caused and natural factors. Roads, seismic lines, forest fires and other changes on the landscape fragment or reduce tǫdzı habitat.
In 2003, boreal caribou were listed as Threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act and a National Recovery Strategy for these caribou was released in 2012. The strategy identifies critical habitat for boreal caribou as a minimum of 65% undisturbed habitat throughout boreal caribou range.
Also in 2012, the NWT Species at Risk Committee assessed boreal caribou as Threatened in the NWT because of their small population size and an expected continuing decline in the amount of secure habitat. In 2014, boreal caribou were listed as Threatened in the NWT under the territorial Species at Risk (NWT) Act, and a NWT Boreal Caribou Recovery Strategy was prepared. The recovery strategy includes regional plans which will protect critical habitat and describe how the Boreal caribou range will be managed to maintain at least 65% undisturbed habitat. The threshold critical habitat is already under 65% in the NWT, primarily due to forest fires in 2014 and 2015, but roads and other infrastructure associated with development are also contributing to declining habitat, a trend that’s expected to continue in future. Ongoing Tłı̨chǫ knowledge research on tǫdzı is providing important information on these caribou and their use of habitat that can be used in range planning for the Wek’èezhìı area.
In May 2015, the WRRB and the Tłı̨chǫ Government met with community members in Gamètì, Whatì and Behchokǫ̀ to present the draft strategy and to gather their comments. Input from these communities and others in the boreal caribou’s range was used to prepare the final strategy.
Now the individual members of the Conference of Management Authorities (CMA) are reviewing the recovery strategy. The CMA is the group of wildlife co-management boards, including the WRRB, and governments that share management responsibility for the listing, conservation and recovery of species at risk in the NWT. The WRRB approved the recovery strategy at its August meeting. The CMA will meet in October 2016 to sign the consensus agreement accepting the recovery strategy.
More information on boreal caribou can be found by visiting the NWT Species at Risk website.
Red-necked Phalarope in winter plumage. Teddy Llovet / Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.0)
WRRB Approves Proposed Species at Risk Listing for the Red-necked Phalarope
The Board supported the proposed listing of a species at risk under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA): the Red-necked Phalarope. This shorebird migrates north to its breeding grounds each summer, and can be found in Wek’èezhìı.
Numbers of Red-necked Phalaropes have fallen over the last 40 years in important staging areas –places where they stop to rest and feed on their migration route. While it’s not clear how their populations are doing overall, the quality of breeding habitat may be threatened by climate change. They are also susceptible to pollutants and oil exposure on migration and during winter when the birds gather in large numbers on the ocean. Ocean currents can concentrate pollutants, making them more toxic. Because of these threats, it is proposed that the Red-necked Phalarope be listed as a species of Special Concern under the federal SARA.
Board members Suzanne Carrière, Steven Matthews, Grant Pryznyk (Chair) and Charlie Jeremick'ca. Photo: Jody Pellissey, WRRB
Here are photos from the Board meeting at Daring Lake.