ɂekwǫ̀ (caribou) herd on the tundra during a Ekwǫ̀ Nàxoèhdee K’è outing. Photo credit: Aimee Guile, WRRB.

ɂekwǫ̀ (caribou) herd on the tundra during a Ekwǫ̀ Nàxoèhdee K’è outing. Photo credit: Aimee Guile, WRRB.

Conservation Biologist for the WRRB goes out on the land with Ekwǫ̀ Nàxoèhdee K’è (Boots on the Ground)

Our Conservation Biologist, Aimee Guile, had the opportunity to go out on the land with Ekwǫ̀ Nàxoèhdee K’è: Boots on the Ground from August 24 to September 13. They were back at Kǫ̀k’èetı̀ (Contwoyto) Lake undertaking traditional knowledge monitoring of kǫ̀k’èetı̀ ekwǫ̀ (Bathurst barren-ground caribou). This year everyone who went out had to submit to a covid test before getting on the plane. The team also stayed an additional three days out on the land as the next crew was cancelled due to the ongoing outbreak in the territory. Like last year, Aimee assisted the team as a researcher/biologist, and was joined by Joe Zoe – Elder, Roy Judas – Lead Camp Manager, JJ Simpson – TK researcher, Julian Behrens – youth participant, Jimmy Mantla – bear monitor, John Rabesca – bear monitor and Josephine Rabesca, who was the cook for this trip.

The weather this year really cooperated for Aimee’s shift at Kǫ̀k’èetı̀. They were able to get out on the land and water nearly every day. The average day consisted of getting in the boat and heading toward an area where they suspected there might be ɂekwǫ̀. The locations selected were based on collar data, which they received 2-3 times a week, and the group’s knowledge of the area. From there, they would hike until they found a group of ɂekwǫ̀. The team then made their observations and collected data until the ɂekwǫ̀ moved out of view. In the evenings they upload all the photos and input the data into spreadsheets. During their down time, they played games and fished.

Unfortunately, the cranberry picking wasn’t good this year as they were not ready by the time the team left on the 13 of September. However, they did see a lot of wildlife including Kǫ̀k’èetı̀ ekwǫ̀ and Beverly/Ahiak ekwǫ̀, hozı̀ı edzıe (muskoxen), a sahcho (grizzly bear) digging out and feeding on a ground dlòo (ground squirrel), a pack of dìga (wolves) take down an ɂekwǫ̀ calf, an arctic gahcho (hare), as well as ground dlòo, and different naedè (birds) migrating back down south for the winter. The team also observed bald and golden det’ǫcho (eagles), including a nest on a rock outcrop on the lake.

The WRRB looks forward to many more opportunities to partner with Ekwǫ̀ Nàxoèhdee K’è and the Tłı̨chǫ Government in the future on projects and programs such as this. For further information on Ekwǫ̀ Nàxoèhdee K’è, click here.