Aimee Guile during the ɂekwǫ̀ surveys, 2021. Photo credit: Aimee Guile, WRRB. Randi Jennings during the Caribou surveys, 2021. Photo credit: Randi Jennings, WRRB.

Aimee Guile during the ɂekwǫ̀ surveys, 2021. Photo credit: Aimee Guile, WRRB. Randi Jennings during the Caribou surveys, 2021. Photo credit: Randi Jennings, WRRB.

ɂEkwǫ̀ Survey’s with Aimee and Randi

Last month, our Biologists, Aimee Guile and Randi Jennings, were invited to assist with this year’s Bathurst and Bluenose-East Calving Ground Surveys in Nunavut. From June 8-11, they flew over the Bluenose-East calving ground west of Kugluktuk, and over Bathurst Inlet, which is ~400km east of Kugluktuk. They were able to do three full days of flying in two caravan planes to count ɂekwǫ̀ (caribou), despite having six weather days that prevented them from flying. During the surveys, Aimee and Randi saw lots of wildlife including hozı̀ı edzıe (muskoxen), dìga (wolves), dedı̀ı' (moose) and calves, sahcho (grizzly bears), nǫgèe (foxes), and ɂekwǫ̀.

Aimee and Randi were not the only members of the survey team. This year they joined Roy Judas of Wekweètì, Peter Crookedhand from Dettah, Earl Evans, Chair of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, Jessica Hurtubise from the North Slave Metis Alliance, and Stephan Goodman, Dean Cluff, Jan Adamczewski, Karin Clark, Judy Williams, Robin Abernathy, and Kevin Chan from the Government of the Northwest Territories, as well as the pilots from North Wright Air, Fred, and Dylan.

The purpose of this survey is to calculate the number of breeding females, and the number of calves born this year. Following this, another survey will be conducted during rutting season to calculate the number of bulls. This data will then be pooled to get an estimate of the total population of ɂekwǫ̀. With ɂekwǫ̀ herds in decline, particularly Bluenose-East and Bathurst, these surveys are essential to ensure stability of the herds and provide data for decision-making regarding appropriate management actions that will ensure their continued survival.