Results of this summer's photographic survey of the calving grounds of the Bathurst caribou herd confirms an accelerated decline in the number of animals.
The survey was done by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) in June 2009.
The estimated number of breeding females found on the calving grounds has dropped from 55,600 in 2006 to 16,600 plus or minus 4,500 animals in 2009. The overall population estimate of the herd is 31,900 animals plus or minus 11,000.
"Although caribou herds traditionally cycle, these low levels and rapid decline indicate tough decisions must be made for the herd to recover," Minister of Environment and Natural Resources J. Michael Miltenberger said. "We are working with the TlÏchô Government to develop a Joint Proposal on management actions for herd recovery."
The ENR/TlÏchô Government Joint Proposal will be submitted to the Wek'eÍezhiÍi Renewable Resources Board (WRRB) by the end of October.
The WRRB, established under the TlÏchô Land Claims and Self-Government Agreement, is the main instrument for wildlife management in the Wek'eÍezhiÍi area. The WRRB will make recommendations on recovery of the herd.
Consultation with other Aboriginal governments and stakeholder groups will be held in November to determine recommendations for recovery of the herd in areas outside of Wek'eÍezhiÍi.
"ENR biologists are working with independent biologists, population modellers and statisticians to review all current data on the herd," added Miltenberger. "These analyses will be used to produce a technical report which will be provided to the WRRB to assist in its deliberations on recovery actions."
Observers from the TlÏchô Government, Lutsel k'e, the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, the North Slave Metis Alliance and a staff member from the WRRB participated in the survey.
Results of the surveys done on the Cape Bathurst, Blue-nose West, Ahiak and Beverly herds will be released after being provided to co-management partners.
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