Federal government spending $6.6M on caribou conservation in Nunavut

Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s environment minister, visited Iqaluit Thursday to announce funding to support Nunavut’s monitoring of 13 caribou herds. (David Gunn/CBC)

The federal government is investing $6.6 million over four years to aid the Nunavut government’s research and monitoring of 13 caribou herds in the territory.

The herds in question include barren ground caribou such as the Dolphin-Union, which is being considered for listing as threatened under the federal Species At Risk Act, and Peary caribou, which are already listed as threatened.

Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault made the announcement at the Nunavut Legislative Assembly Thursday, alongside officials from the Nunavut government.

“For most people in the south, the only time they will ever see a caribou is when they pull a 25-cent coin out of their pocket,” he said “But here, caribou are a part of your traditional way of life.”

The money will support aerial surveys, the launch of a telemetry program with remote sensors, and data analysis, according to a news release. It will look at migration patterns, habitat usage and other trends.

The governments expect to use the data from these initiatives for future decisions on how many caribou can be harvested, and to better understand how development impacts the herds, the release stated.

“This work is important so we can make well-informed management recommendations to the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board while incorporating Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and the best available scientific information,” said Nunavut Environment Minister Joanna Quassa. Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, also known as IQ, refers to a set of principles based in Inuit traditional knowledge.

Nunavut Environment Minister Joanna Quassa said the work the territory is doing to monitor caribou herds will help them to make recommendations about how to manage the herds. (David Gunn/CBC)

When asked if the funding would be enough to support the project, Guilbeault suggested more could be on the way if needed.

“We will continue working closely with the government of Nunavut and Inuit people to ensure that they have the resources necessary to bring this work to completion,” he said.

“The reality is that [the work] is probably something we will have to be doing on an ongoing basis going forward.”

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Northern Indigenous Guardians initiatives among those to share in Ottawa funding, CBC News

Finland: Miners hunting for metals to battery cars threaten Finland’s Sámi reindeer herders’ homeland, Yle News

Greenland: Greenland issues new exploration, prospecting licences to Anglo American, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Minister downplays environmental impact of planned mine in Arctic Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: The Arctic Railway – Building a future or destroying a culture?, Eye on the Arctic

United States: Biden, Trudeau agree to ‘safeguard’ caribou calving grounds in Alaska refuge, CBC News

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