The ACCWM (Advisory Committee for Cooperation on Wildlife Management) is holding its second Annual Status Meeting on November 21-23, 2017 in Yellowknife. The ACCWM wants to hear from users of the Cape Bathurst, Bluenose-West, and Bluenose-East caribou herds about topics such as caribou health, population changes, and management activities.
Each year, a “status meeting” is held to share information and discuss how the herds are doing and how they can best be supported. Local, traditional, and scientific knowledge will all help the ACCWM make collaborative decisions about herd status and identify what actions can be taken to conserve and manage the herds. The WRRB is a member of the ACCWM, along with five other wildlife management boards that are in the range of the Cape Bathurst, Bluenose-West and Bluenose-East caribou.
Last December 2016 was the first year a status meeting was held for these caribou herds. During that meeting, the status decisions were “Red” for the Cape Bathurst caribou herd and “Orange” for both the Bluenose-West and the Bluenose-East caribou. The Taking Care of Caribou Management Plan, completed in 2014, uses a “traffic light approach” to guide when to take action and which actions to take. A herd’s status may be determined as Red, Orange, Yellow, or Green. Red indicates that the population is low; Orange means a population is intermediate and decreasing. Yellow refers to a population that is intermediate and increasing, and Green means the population level is high. Once herd status (or colour) is decided, specific management actions are set in motion. Overall, management actions intensify as status approaches Red.
from Taking Care of Caribou: Cape Bathurst, Bluenose-West and Bluenose-East Barren Ground Caribou Herds Management Plan. ACCWM (2014)
Management actions are determined in part by herd size, whether it is increasing or decreasing, and other relevant factors. For example, decisions are also influenced by other information from harvesters and scientists, such as body condition and health, and human disturbance. The Annual Status Meeting is an opportunity for community members to share their observations and what they have experienced on the land in the past year. Are people seeing more caribou or fewer? Are their numbers going up or down? How quickly? Are they seeing many calves in the last year or fewer? Is there a good mix of cows and bulls? Do caribou seem healthy? What are predator numbers like? Are they impacting caribou? Are people seeing any changes in where and when caribou are moving? Are people seeing any changes on the land? What things might be impacting caribou?
This kind of information is invaluable, not only because it will inform the decisions that will be made to guide management of these caribou herds over the next year and to update the action plans for each herd, but because they will contribute towards understanding changes in caribou populations and their environment over the past year.
This year, the first two days of the Annual Status Meeting (November 21 -22) will be open to the public for information sharing and discussion. The ACCWM will meet on the following day to review all the information and make consensus decisions on herd status and management actions for each herd.