Nunavut government limits hunting of Dolphin and Union caribou

“A recent steep decline in the population” prompts interim total allowable harvest of 42

This map shows the Dolphin and Union caribou fall migration between Victoria Island and the mainland. The numbers of the herd are in “steep decline,” the Government of Nunavut said on Sept. 4. Concern about this decline prompted the GN to set a total allowable harvest of 42 animals this year. (Image courtesy of the GNWT)

By Nunatsiaq News

The Government of Nunavut is restricting the hunting of the Kitkmeot region’s Dolphin and Union caribou herd through an interim total allowable harvest of 42, due to what it calls “a recent steep decline in the population” of the herd.

That decline has led to a “conservation concern” about the western Nunavut herd’s numbers, the GN’s Department of Environment said in a news release on Friday, Sept. 4.

Last year, the GN told the Kitikmeot Regional Wildlife Board that the herd had decreased by 34 per cent in eight years (4.2 per cent annually on average) from its 2007 population of about 27,800.

This interim total allowable harvest will be reassessed once formal consultations are completed, new information is reviewed, and updated recommendations are submitted to the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, the GN said.

The Kitikmeot Regional Wildlife Board will determine how the total allowable harvest is divided among communities and inform the hunters and trappers organizations affected by the total allowable harvest, the GN said.

These HTOs are the Ekaluktutiak HTO, the Kugluktuk Angoniatit Association, the Omingmaktok HTO and the Burnside HTO.

Hunters will need a tag from their HTO before heading out to hunt, and tags will also be available for harvested caribou, the GN said.

The stocky, large-hoofed Dolphin and Union caribou usually spend their summers on Victoria Island and overwinter on the mainland.

But the animals’ migrations across the sea ice of the Coronation Gulf have become more dangerous in recent years, as the ice freezes up later in the fall and thaws earlier in the spring.

The growing amount of ice-breaking in the area has also been flagged as a major concern by wildlife biologists because the herd migrates across one of the routes through the Northwest Passage.

In 2016, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada reassessed the Dolphin and Union caribou herd as an endangered species.

A subsequent 2018 management plan for the herd said major threats include icing or freeze-thaw events, affecting access to forage; increased insect harassment and a rise in parasites and diseases; mining; roads; and competition from other species.

“Climate change is an underlying driver of many of these threats,” it said.

Aware of the dip in the herd’s numbers, hunters from Kugluktuk proposed the wolf-sampling program as a way of helping minimize the impact of predators on the caribou.

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Enforcement on

    Wonder who will be enforcing this if anyone?
    That wont stop a bunch of people from going out and illegally harvesting tuktu. Lately have been zero enforcement by GN Wildlife. In Bay Chimo last year I saw a bunch of killed tuktu and they were barely even harvested. Looked more like a sport kill

  2. Posted by Cambaymiut on

    What “growing amount of icebreaking” are the biologists complaining about? There isn’t any.

  3. Posted by Copperinuk on

    Isn’t this illegal without Inuit consultation?

  4. Posted by Fred on

    How can there be HTO’s in Bathurst Inlet and Bay Chimo when no one lives at either location? With no residents how can they be acclaimed or voted in? All former residents now live in Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk, so are they not members of those HTO’s now? This is a bigger question than imposing a TAH.
    Please explain this.

  5. Posted by Uvaali on

    Better plan the wolf cull which will decrease the herd’s predators.

  6. Posted by tuktuborel on

    “recent decline” this herd has been declining for several years now. it is just the GN finally getting off their butts and doing something about it to speed the recovery.

    Ice breaking, what ice breaking?

    Enforcement yes indeed good luck with that!

  7. Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

    Culling wolves does not work. Wolves live in packs /family groups with young living and helping and learning from their parents until the age of two generally before they strike out on their own to find mates and form new packs of their own. Until then they do not breed within the family. So only the Alpha pair mate and they in-force that. When the Alpha pair or one of them gets killed , this breaks up the family and the young wolves often strike out on their own and often end up mating at an earlier age then they would in their family pack. Hence you are actually increasing the wolf population by doing that. Sterilizing the Alpha pair is more effective but unfortunately not practical in Nunavut. The territory is to vast and it would cost a fortune.

    • Posted by Frank Tester on

      Well said. That’s exactly what happens. Wolf control has been tried (and failed) since the 1950s. Why are we still talking about it?

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