Fentie stops Dempster Highway caribou hunt

Environment Minister Dennis Fentie has signed an emergency order prohibiting hunting of all caribou between Chapman Lake and North Fork Pass on the…

Environment Minister Dennis Fentie has signed an emergency order prohibiting hunting of all caribou between Chapman Lake and North Fork Pass on the Dempster Highway.

The conservation measure order within game management subzones 2-23 and 2-28 is in place from Saturday until January 31.

It is designed to protect the Hart River caribou herd, which uses the area along with the Porcupine caribou herd.

Conservation officials are concerned because the Porcupine caribou herd has not arrived on the highway and has not moved into subzones 2-23 and 2-28.

The Hart River caribou herd is small and vulnerable.

It could easily be over-harvested because of its size and because the Dempster Highway runs through its winter range.

Current estimates peg the herd’s population at about 2,200 animals.

The caribou hunting regulations for subzones 2-23 and 2-28, which allow caribou hunting of either male or female between August 1 and January 31, were intended for the larger Porcupine caribou herd.

In previous years, hunters would take mainly barren ground caribou in the area and few woodland caribou.

There is presently no distinction between hunting barren ground or woodland caribou in Subzones 2-23 and 2-28.

The emergency closure applies to Yukon resident and non-resident hunters.

Information submitted by the Yukon Environment department. (RM)

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