2018 Survey Results – Bathurst and Bluenose East Caribou Herds

Behchokǫ̀ (November, 22, 2018) The Government of Northwest Territories (GNWT) department of Environment and Natural Resources released the spring 2018 calving ground survey results for populations of the Bathurst and Bluenose-East herds. The surveys show a continuing rapid decline in both herds.

Tłı̨chǫ Government is distressed to learn about the continuing herd declines and had been hoping for better news concerning these herds.

Grand Chief George Mackenzie notes the significance of migratory barren-ground caribou – ekwò – to Tłı̨chǫ: “The ekwò are a keystone species – they have shaped the cultural identity of the Tłı̨chǫ. Our history, our language, culture and way of life are joined with ekwò. We depend on them for food, clothing and equipment. They have been with us as far back as we can remember. This decline hits us hard. It hurts.”

Tłı̨chǫ Government is pleased to acknowledge the GNWT’s continuing commitment to working with Tłı̨chǫ as joint management partners. The GNWT’s restated commitment to the established wildlife co-management processes is also welcome. Strong collaboration is going to be needed because we need to work together to address and respond to continuing herd declines and recover ekwò for future generations.

Co-management, and the importance of GNWT/ Tłı̨chǫ Government collaboration was in evidence in the public review process during which the Wek’ èezhı̀ı Renewable Resources Board (WRRB) considered, and made recommendations and determinations about the 2016-2019 joint management proposals on the Bathurst and Bluenose East herds in Wek’ èezhı̀ı —the co-management area established under our Tłı̨chǫ Agreement. The WRRB made key determinations and recommendations for action. It is clear to Tłı̨chǫ Government that news of the continuing decline of the herd calls for a response. Consequently, the Tłı̨chǫ Government will request that the WRRB, at its earliest convenience, convene a special public hearing to review the Board’s 2016 determinations and recommendations concerning these herds in light of the sharp declines outlined in the 2018 survey results.  Tłı̨chǫ Government anticipates that a special public hearing would also provide an important opportunity to share results and information, as well as receive feedback from Tłı̨chǫ citizens, any Indigenous peoples who traditionally harvest the two herds, and Northwest Territories (NWT) residents. 

Tłı̨chǫ Government wants to maximize every chance to stabilize and help these herds recover. We are confident that GNWT, other Indigenous peoples and groups and all residents of the NWT will join us in continuing the important and challenging work to find ways to help these herds.

Ekwò zò gha dzô nats’êdè  - we live here for caribou. Ması̀ Cho.

For further information contact:
Michael Birlea
Manager, Lands Protection and Renewable Resources
Tłı̨chǫ Ndek'àowo / Tłı̨chǫ Government
Tel: 1 (867) 392 6381 Ext: 1355 • email: MichaelBirlea@tlicho.com

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