The Department of Environment imposed an emergency ban on hunting the Hart River caribou herd today.
It is the fifth time in the past six years this closure has been ordered.
“The Porcupine caribou have not come down into that area that they share with the Hart River,” said regional biologist Dorothy Cooley. “When the Porcupine come down, because there’s so many of them, they basically flood the area and it almost dilutes the hunting risk to the Hart in that area.
“What we’re worried about is that a large number of Hart River caribou will get taken under the much more liberal Porcupine caribou regulations.”
The Hart River herd is small, at around 2,200 animals, while the Porcupine caribou herd is estimated to be 169,000.
The ban applies to game management subzones 2-16, 2-23, 2-27, 2-28 and 2-39, which includes the Dempster Highway from kilometre 77 (North Fork Pass) to kilometre 195 (Ogilvie River Bridge).
The restriction only applies to licensed hunters, said Cooley.
“The number of licensed hunters is actually pretty low,” she said, “relative to the subsistence hunters for the Porcupine.”
First Nation hunters’ rights are protected under federal law, as well as self-government and land claim agreements.
The Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation, whose traditional territory overlaps the restricted hunting zones along with the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation, said its primary focus for addressing issues like this is through hunter awareness and education.
The ban runs from November 7, 2011 to July 31, 2012.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at firstname.lastname@example.org