Photo credit: Andy Krisch, ENR

Photo credit: Andy Krisch, ENR

Caribou management proposals reviewed

The Bathurst (Kǫ̀k’èetı̀ Ekwǫ̀) and Bluenose East (Sahtì Ekwǫ̀) barren-ground caribou herds both had joint management proposals reviewed and approved by the Wek’èezhìı Renewable Resources Board for another two years in May 2022.

The Tłı̨chǫ Government (TG) and Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) submitted new joint management proposals for each of the herds last January to the WRRB. Both documents outline how they plan to manage the herds between July 1, 2022 and July 1 2024. 

Under Section 12.5.1 of the Tłı̨chǫ Agreement, all issues involving management of any wildlife or wildlife habitat in Wek’èezhìı require consultation and review with the WRRB. 

The Tłı̨chǫ Agreement also allows for any Party (TG, GNWT, or Government of Canada) – either individually or jointly – to submit a proposal on actions for wildlife management in Wek’èezhìı.

The WRRB provided final responses with recommendations for the Kǫk’èetı Ekwǫ̀ Herd and the Sahtì Ekwǫ̀ Herd in letters to TG and GNWT on May 27, 2022.

WRRB Chair Joseph Judas said in a letter to the two governments that management of the Kǫk’èetı Ekwǫ̀ herd should continue mostly unchanged from its last review in 2019, including in the areas of harvest, predator management, habitat and land use, and education.

However, he added that the Board does not support intensified monitoring of the Kǫk’èetı Ekwǫ̀ as proposed by the two governments, specifically an annual photo survey on the calving ground.      

“The WRRB is concerned about the apparent transition to annual monitoring of ɂekwǫ̀ on their calving ground as aerial surveys to estimate abundance were completed in 2021 and are proposed for 2022 and 2023,” Judas wrote. 

Other concerns in the letter include the need for more discussion between the multi-party Barren-ground Caribou Technical Working Group on intensified monitoring and design for distribution surveys, possible future scenarios for the herd, and how herds east and west of Bathurst Inlet should be interpreted. 

Tłı̨chǫ elders, who have said that the ɂekwǫ̀ should not be disturbed need to  “be reconciled with the senior elder’s knowledge,” the letter adds.

Bluenose East (Sahtì Ekwǫ̀) herd

In the second letter to the two governments regarding the Sahtì Ekwǫ̀ herd, Judas wrote that the WRRB approves the continuing monitoring procedures over the next four years in the areas of harvest, predator management, habitat and land use, education, and monitoring and research.

There will be a composition survey in July 2023 to examine “apparent low calf survival” discovered in 2020. 

Management proposals by Parties to the Agreement are important because they set out the actions they wish to implement regarding wildlife species or wildlife habitat. They include such details as how actions will be conducted, how long they will take place, when and where it will happen, and who will be involved.

[See Section 12.5.1 in the Tłı̨chǫ Agreement  and  the WRRB’s Rules for Management Proposals.]

Once the WRRB receives the proposals, they are given a level rating – with one being the lowest and three being the highest – regarding how much consultation and review will be needed to move forward.

“It was decided to conduct a modified level one because there was little change in the proposed management actions from the last time it was submitted, which was in 2019,” explained WRRB Executive Director Jody Pellissey.

“The Board met in May 2022 and reviewed the Joint Management Proposals and information collected during the Level 1 modified time period.”

Three-month window

Both final documents followed the WRRB’s May Board meeting and a three-month window for review from February 18 to April 25.