The Carcross/Tagish First Nation now has a fish and wildlife work plan for their traditional territory to be implemented over the next five years.
The new plan details a range of issues including caribou and bear management, pressure on fish populations, threats to habitat from recreational use, the need for a dedicated conservation officer and the sharing of traditional knowledge.
“Our fish and wildlife are part of who we are as people. Their health and wellbeing reflect directly on ours. We thank the Carcross/Tagish Renewable Resources Council and the Government of Yukon for their help in developing this community-based plan,” said Carcross/Tagish First Nation Haa Shaa du Hen Lynda Dickson in a statement.
The traditional territory of the C/TFN ranges in the Southern Lakes south of Whitehorse. The report notes that aside from the capital, it is the most densely populated part of the territory and a popular destination for visitors.
The plan was developed in 2019 and early 2020 and will be implemented from June 2020 to June 2025. Meetings took place in Carcross, Tagish, Mount Lorne and Marsh Lake.
It was noted the area is popular for recreation but right now enforcement is based in Whitehorse. By 2025 the region will have a dedicated conservation officer to service the Carcross and Tagish areas.
“This work plan reflects a collaborative approach to the management of wild species and their habitats,” said Environment Minister Pauline Frost in a statement.
“We are pleased to work with the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and the Carcross/Tagish Renewable Resources Council on this important initiative. We look forward to working together on priorities outlined in the plan, including establishing a dedicated conservation officer for the Carcross and Tagish areas,” she said.
The plan also includes new initiatives to support cross-cultural knowledge sharing that would share C/TFN traditional knowledge with non-Indigenous visitors, residents and land users.
The planning document divides its chapters by specific animals of concern and the use of the land by people.
During the community discussions regarding fish, concerns were raised about the decline of multiple species, including lake trout, grayling, cisco and northern pike. By 2023 detailed plans for high-use fishing areas are to be prepared, including Little Atlin Lake, Snafu Lake, Tarfu Lake and the Lubbock River.
Other animals of concern included caribou, sheep, moose and wolves.
Within the C/TFN traditional territory there are four caribou herds; the Ibex, Atlin, Carcross and Laberge herds. The report notes that the herds are easily affected by human development and can be disturbed by snowmobiles, dog teams, skiers, fat bikes, hikers and highway vehicle traffic.
Over the past three decades, conservation efforts have helped herds recover, but the report notes that any future harvest must be cautious, and long-term impacts of climate change pose additional uncertainties.
The plan for the next five years includes research on human recreation impacts, highway deaths and scientific range monitoring in order to create long-term plans.
Community members during consultations also expressed concern over the sheep and moose populations. Studies are also planned to monitor the population of wolves in the area and more public education over human-bear interaction.
Finally, concerns were also raised about conflict between recreationists not respecting traplines and the need for better public education campaigns. The plan includes a future discussion around the Marten Conservation Area and concerns around the impact of beavers on fish passage.
On an ongoing basis a number of workshops are suggested for other recreational users like dog team owners and winter recreation groups like snowmobilers and trail builders.
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