Photo credit: John Nagy/GNWT-ENR

Photo credit: John Nagy/GNWT-ENR

Sahtì Ekwǫ̀ sees ‘statistically significant’ improvement in numbers

A surge in Sahtì Ekwǫ̀ (Bluenose East barren-ground caribou) population numbers was the highlight of a motion to approve three statuses for ekwǫ̀ by the WRRB in December.

The Board supported a proposal brought forward by the Advisory Committee for Cooperation on Wildlife Management (ACCWM) from its annual status meeting in November, which provided up-to-date population numbers for the Cape Bathurst, Sahtì Ekwǫ̀ and Bluenose-West herds.

The ACCWM is an advisory group and the only ekwǫ̀ management organization in the NWT existing solely of wildlife co-management boards. It has no government representation but is made up of six regional member boards across the North, which includes the WRRB. The other representatives are the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (NWT), Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board, Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę Gots’ę́ Nákedı/Sahtú Renewable Resources Board, Kitikmeot Regional Wildlife Board, and Tuktut Nogait National Park Management Board.

The group’s membership, under the guidance of the revised 2021 Taking Care of Caribou management plan, corroborates scientific research and community-based observations with a multitude of indicators to make recommendations on how to manage the status of the three herds.

Sahtì Ekwǫ̀, the only one of the three that migrate through Wek’èezhìı, is estimated to have a population of 39,525, based on scientific and community observation. This is up from 2021 figures when numbers were last compiled. The estimate is statistically significant from the last estimate in 2021 of 23,202.

The herd is seeing high adult survival rates, higher pregnancy rates, and high calf survival rates.

The Board approved a similar motion in February 2023, which also saw signs of the herd increasing.

ACCWM uses a four colour-coded ‘traffic-light’ system to communicate the health of the statuses. Sahtì Ekwǫ̀, similar to the Cape Bathurst, herd located near Tuktoyaktuk and the Beaufort Sea, received a yellow status meaning that the herd size is at an intermediate level and increasing.

The Bluenose West herd received an orange indicator, meaning it is at an intermediate level and decreasing.