Canada's Porcupine Caribou Herd Conservation Plan Awaits Signatures

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A harvest management plan for the Porcupine caribou herd could be fully signed by the end of this month, when the Porcupine Caribou Management Board plans to meet. (CBC)The Porcupine Caribou Management Board -a caribou co-management entity comprising members from Canadian federal, Yukon and Northwest Territories governments, as well as aboriginal government officials – is awaiting final government approvals on a new plan to manage and conserve the Porcupine caribou herd, as two of its eight participating governments have yet to sign on.

 

The board had hoped all eight member governments would have signed onto the new harvest management plan by now. It postponed its most recent meeting in April, in the hopes that all parties will have signed it this month. The meeting has been rescheduled for May 26, 2010.

“All the parties have clearly supported the idea of signing it,” Joe Tetlichi, the management board’s chairman, told CBC News.

“The government of Canada and government of the Northwest Territories are looking it over and they have agreed to sign it. However, they’re just going through the protocol.”

The Porcupine Caribou Management Board is a caribou co-management entity comprising members from the federal, Yukon and Northwest Territories governments, as well as aboriginal government officials.

‘First-ever’ plan

The harvest management plan calls for hunting restrictions based on the number of caribou in the herd, but complete details of the board’s new management plan are not being released until all the member governments have signed on. The Yukon and five aboriginal governments have already signed the document.

Once everyone has signed the plan, Tetlichi said all parties will then have to agree on an implementation plan.

“This is the first-ever harvest management plan and a lot of people, a lot of other co-management boards, are looking at the Porcupine Caribou Management Board and all the work that they do,” Tetlichi said. “I think we’ve taken the lead role.”

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Chief Joe Linklater of Old Crow, Yukon, said the Porcupine Caribou Management Board remains a useful avenue for outreach and communication about issues related to the Porcupine caribou herd, which has long been an important food source for aboriginal peoples in northern Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Alaska.

But once a new management plan is in place, Linklater said he isn’t sure what the board’s role will be.

“The board is going to have to try to figure out, you know, to the best extent possible what its relevant role is going to be,” Linklater said.

Tetlichi said even with a new management plan, the board will continue to monitor the Porcupine caribou herd, provide statistical data and listen to its member governments.

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