On September 26, 2016 the NWT Minister of Environment and Natural Resources affirmed the community-based conservation planning approach to caribou management in a mostly positive response to the report on the Sahtú Bluenose East Ɂekwę́ (Caribou) Hearing. This marks the first time that a conservation plan led by local indigenous communities – and relying on traditional indigenous conservation systems – is being accepted in principle for caribou management in Canada.
The Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę Gots’ę́ Nákedı (Sahtú Renewable Resources Board released the Bluenose East Hearing Report, Ɂekwę ́hé Dene Ts’ı̨lı̨ - Sustaining Relationships, a month ago. The Minister has now completed his initial review and response. In a letter including point-by-point responses to the 39 decisions in the Board’s Hearing Report on conservation measures for the Bluenose East herd, Minister Robert C. McLeod accepted many of the Board's decisions. However, he also asked the Board to consider varying several of its decisions.
On March 1-3 of this year, the Board held a public hearing to review proposed plans for Bluenose East ɂekwę́ management submitted by the GNWT and by the community of Délı̨nę, the primary harvester of the Bluenose East herd in the Sahtú Region. After considering the evidence, the board made a number of decisions on measures to support the health of the Bluenose East herd, including a decision to accept Délı̨nę’s community-based conservation planning approach.
The Minister supports, in principle, the decision to accept the community ɂedets’ę́ k’áots’erewe (self-regulation) approach as a culturally appropriate and effective mechanism for addressing Bluenose East ɂekwę́ conservation. The Minister notes that this approach is relatively new and that its effectiveness needs to be monitored and adapted as needed.
While accepting the overall approach put forward by the Board, the Minister has asked the Board to vary the following key decisions on harvest:
- The Minister asks the Board to consider a proposed Bluenose East harvest for the Sahtú Settlement Area of 129 BNE ɂekwę́ (rather than the 150 that Délı̨nę had proposed as a ceremonial harvest for its community). The Minister’s request is based on the Wek'èezhı̀ı Renewable Resources Board’s recent decision that the herd-wide harvest across all regions should be 750 rather than the 950 ɂekwę́ for conservation reasons.
- The Minister asks the Board to consider a maximum harvest of five tsı́da (females), rather than the Board’s original decision for a majority yárégo (bull) harvest with 20% tsı́da (female) harvest for ceremonial and cultural purposes.
The Board will work with the Délı̨nę community (whose community conservation planning approach both the Board and the Minister have now accepted in principle) to review the Minister's response. By October 26, the Board will issue its reply to the Minister's requests to vary several of the Board's decisions.
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