A hunter views some animals through his rifle’s scope during a Yukon hunting trip in 2017. As the Yukon government opens up a limited hunt on the Fortymile caribou heard beginning Aug. 1, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in are calling on the territory to first finalize a harvest management plan for the herd. (Jordon Carey/Submitted)

Fortymile caribou hunt will begin Aug. 1

Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in wants harvest management plan completed first

As the Yukon government opens up a limited hunt on the Fortymile caribou herd beginning Aug. 1, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in is calling on the territory to first finalize a harvest management plan for the herd.

The First Nation issued a statement July 27 shortly after the Yukon government announced the limited licensed harvest from Aug. 1 to Sept. 9 for Yukon resident hunters.

It will be the second time the territory is providing for a Fortymile caribou hunt in 25 years. The first one happened last winter and follows extensive caribou recovery efforts. In that hunt a total of 14 caribou were harvested with 66 permits issued.

While the government noted in its statement that the herd is now recovered to a population that can allow for a managed harvest, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in has stated it wanted the harvest management plan done first and were hopeful the Yukon government would opt not to move ahead with a summer hunt, but instead look towards late winter.

“This would have given us time to complete the plan and present it to our citizens for approval. We are disappointed the Yukon (government) didn’t accommodate our request in favour of appeasing licensed hunters and the Alaskan government,” deputy chief Simon Nagano said in a statement.

The First Nation went on to point out it had refrained from harvesting the Fortymile caribou population for three decades in order to rebuild the population and though the population has increased subsistence harvesting remains a challenge as the herd migrates between Yukon and Alaska and the First Nation can only hunt on the Yukon side of the border.

“The rising herd numbers proves our sacrifice has paid off,” said Nagano. “However, TH citizens are still not able to meet their subsistence needs. The Fortymile herd needs more time to push into our traditional territory and our citizens need time to refamiliarize themselves with the herd.”

The First Nation encouraged citizens to be part of the subsistence hunt this summer “to reconnect with the herd, and re-establish important harvesting practices.”

Environment Minister Pauline Frost highlighted the First Nation hunt in a statement.

“We extend our best wishes to those Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in citizens and families participating in the first Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in community hunt,” she said. “We are also pleased to be able to offer harvest opportunities for licensed hunters this summer. During COVID-19, hunters must take extra precautions and follow the latest public health recommendations to ensure a safe and responsible hunting season.”

In an email correspondence, Environment Yukon caribou biologist Mike Suitor explained the herd had recovered to 84,000 in the last estimate of July 2017. That number is a sufficient population for a harvest, he said.

“The herd is also large enough that if it doesn’t expand into other nearby summer habitats, it could damage the habitat it currently occupies and subsequently lead to a significant population decline in the herd,” he stated in the email. “Opening harvest now is a responsible management decision that will support long-term conservation of the herd while continuing to work towards our long-term goal of supporting a larger population size and distribution in Yukon.”

The Yukon government, he continued, is committed to finishing the harvest management plan.

“We continue to work with Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in toward the end goal of completing this plan,” he said. “While we are working towards this, it is Yukon Government’s view that licensed hunts are not contingent on a completed plan and are needed to help ensure the health of this herd.”

He noted work was done with a number of partners to design the winter hunt earlier this year and for the summer hunt.

“We will continue to monitor the herd and harvest activities in collaboration with Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and the Dawson District Renewable Resource Council to ensure long term conservation of this herd,” he said.

To be eligible for one of the 160 permits available, hunters are required to have a valid Yukon big game hunting licence and caribou tag. Any hunters who already reached the limit of one woodland caribou this hunting year are not eligible for a permit.

Permits will be available from Department of Environment offices starting July 30. They will be valid for five days and will be issued at intervals with 20 available in each five-day interval.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

caribou huntingEnvironment Yukon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chloe Tatsumi dismounts the balance beam to cap her routine during the Yukon Championships at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on May 1. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Gymnasts vie in 2021 Yukon Championships

In a year without competition because of COVID-19, the Polarettes Gymnastics Club hosted its Yukon Championships.

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.


Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

The deceased man, found in Lake LaBerge in 2016, had on three layers of clothing, Dakato work boots, and had a sheathed knife on his belt. Photo courtesy Yukon RCMP
RCMP, Coroner’s Office seek public assistance in identifying a deceased man

The Yukon RCMP Historical Case Unit and the Yukon Coroner’s Office are looking for public help to identify a man who was found dead in Lake LaBerge in May 2016.

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

Most Read