Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)

Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) found no reason to restrict the release of most of the decades’ worth of data on the territory’s caribou herds requested by a member of the public.

Despite this, the department of environment has been slow to provide the requested information, citing a need to discuss the matter with other groups who have a stake in the management of the herds.

According to a statement from IPC’s office, a request came in late 2019 seeking all GPS, VHF and satellite collar re-location data for all caribou herds in Yukon, including transboundary movements into neighbouring jurisdictions, from 1980 to the present day.

The Yukon Department of Environment rejected the request in full, citing portions of the territory’s Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The applicant challenged the rejection, sending it to the IPC’s Diane McLeod-McKay for review.

“My inquiry found that the Department of Environment is required to refuse access to certain information requested by the applicant about the Fortymile caribou herd,” said McLeod-McKay.

“However, I found that the department could not rely on the provisions cited for refusal of some information about the Fortymile caribou herd and for all the information requested about the other 28 herds.”

The IPC’s report states that a records sharing agreement is in place between the Yukon Department of Environment and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game allowing them to work together on managing the Fortymile herd which migrates across the national border.

The agreement is the basis of the recommendation to withhold some of the information requested. Alaskan state law specifies animal location data is confidential unless compelled by a court order. The IPC report found that this applies to data from tracking collars purchased by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game but not to the collars purchased by the Yukon authorities.

Information that is more than 25 years old, and so treated as a public record under the Alaskan law, was recommended for release along with any information from the Alaskans’ collars not considered confidential under the law. The rest of the data from the Alaskans’ collar was recommended withheld.

McLeod-McKay’s report found that the Department of Environment did not have the authority to restrict the release of the remainder of the caribou tracking data. She said the department had 30 days to decide whether they would accept her recommendation; they told her they would need to consult with other governments and organizations before making their decision. They did not reply with their decision within the 30 days, opening the possibility for the applicant to appeal the denial of the information released in the Yukon Supreme Court.

Department of Environment communications manager Roxy Stasyszyn said time was required to engage with the department’s partners inside and outside the Yukon before a decision could be made on accepting the IPC’s recommendations; it has taken them longer than 30 days to adequately engage with those partners. She said they would get back to the IPC’s office with their planned next steps after consulting with the other groups involved.

The IPC’s office would not comment on the applicant or their purpose for requesting the data.

Contact Jim Elliot at jim.elliot@yukon-news.com

Caribou

Just Posted

John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file
Catherine Elliott, Yukon acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, has announced two new COVID-19 cases in the Yukon.
Two new COVID-19 cases confirmed, Porter Creek Secondary prom cancelled

Graduating students are encouraged to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms

Jim Elliot/Yukon News
Ross and Cindy Smith are finding more reason to smile as the floodwaters that almost reached their farm house were beginning to recede on June 8.
Farms on South Klondike Highway experience severe flooding

The nearest body of water is a lake almost three kilometres away

X
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for June 11, 2021.… Continue reading

Whitehorse courthouse interior on April 6, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
CYFN launches pilot program for community impact statements

First Nations will receive support developing statements after major crimes

Israr Ahmed speaks at a vigil at the Whitehorse Mosque to honour the Muslim family killed in London, Ont. on June 10. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Yukoners gather to honour Muslim family killed in London

Like many communities across the country, Yukoners came together to honour the Muslim family murdered in London Ontario

The RCMP Critical Incident Program will be training in Watson Lake from June 14-16. Mike Thomas/Yukon News
RCMP will conduct three days of training in Watson Lake

Lakeview Apartment in Watson Lake will be used for RCMP training

John Tonin/Yukon News Squash players duke it out during Yukon Open tournament action at Better Bodies on June 5.
Four division titles earned at squash Yukon Open

The territory’s squash talent was on full display at the 2021 Yukon Open

Runners leave the start line of the 2014 Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay Skagway. The 2021 race will start at checkpoint six and remain in the Yukon only. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News)
Klondike Road Relay returns to in-person after a virtual year

A modified, in-person Klondike Road Relay will be open to Yukoners

John Tonin/Yukon News Rang Pillai speaks at the Great Yukon Summer press conference on May 27.
‘The sooner the better’: Operators react to Great Yukon Summer campaign

The Great Yukon Summer campaign was announced May 27 and begins June 4

Mayor Dan Curtis stands in front of Minister Richard Mostyn and MP Larry Bagnell during an infastructure announcement made outside Jack Hulland Elementary School in Whitehorse on June 2. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Safety improvements planned for Whitehorse school zones

Enhanced pedestrian crosses are planned to make walking to school safer

2020 Haines Junction graduates line up for a photo on May 27, 2020 as part of a celebration parade through the village. While the St. Elias Community School is able to host an outdoor grad ceremony for 2021 grads this year, it will also host a parade and group photo as it did last year. (Marty Samis/Submitted)
Ceremonies and parades all part of 2021 grad

2021 sees old traditions return with some 2020 events adopted

A rendering of the proposed new city hall/services building and transit hub. (City of Whitehorse/submitted)
New city hall could cost $24.7 million

Council will be presented with latest plans June 7

Most Read