Environment Yukon has cancelled this year’s permit hunt of the Finlayson caribou herd and is encouraging hunters to respect the rules Ross River Dena Council issued in June. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)

YG cancels Finlayson caribou hunt, encourages hunters to respect RRDC’s rules

Environment Yukon says ‘laws of general application’ will still apply to the Ross River area

Environment Yukon has cancelled this year’s permit hunt of the Finlayson caribou herd and is encouraging hunters to respect the rules Ross River Dena Council (RRDC) issued in June.

However, it also says that the “laws of general application” will still apply in the Ross River area, and that it will not help RRDC enforce its own rules.

The department made the announcement in a press release July 31, one day before the hunting season began.

It’s the first time the Yukon government has offered clarification on how hunting will work in the Ross River area this season after the RRDC put a full-page notice in the News June 15 about new hunting rules it was putting in place to address “deep concern” over moose and caribou populations.

Among the rules are a requirement for all non-Kaska hunters to obtain a permit from the RRDC before hunting, an early closure of the moose and caribou hunting season and a moratorium on hunting in 11 places.

In a second notice in the News Aug. 1, RRDC said that the permits will take effect Aug. 8, and that it will be issuing 43 moose permits, 25 sheep permits and 15 caribou permits on a “first-come, first-serve basis.” Permits will be available at the RRDC administration office, Tu Łidlini Petroleum and the Ross River Dena General Store.

RRDC Chief Jack Caesar has not responded to multiple requests for comment from the News since June. RRDC Coun. Derrick Redies did not respond to a request for comment July 31.

In an interview July 31, Environment Yukon spokesperson Roxanne Stasyszyn said that the department has had “conservation concerns” about the Finlayson caribou since 1998, when it first introduced a permit hunting system for the herd. The department was “on schedule” to issue the 30 hunting permits for the herd this season, she said, but the RRDC’s message “allowed for (Environment Yukon) to sit down with them and hear that they shared those concerns as well.”

Thirty hunters had been successful in the 2018-19 lottery for Finlayson caribou, but Stasyszyn said that Environment Yukon had told those hunters the permits were “on hold … to allow time for important conversations about harvest in the herd’s range” at the same time it notified them about the lottery results.

The department contacted the hunters July 30 about its decision to ultimately not issue the permits. The affected hunters will be refunded their application fees, will retain their weightings and also receive an additional year’s weighting the next time they apply to the lottery for Finlayson caribou.

Outfitters will be allowed to fulfil their Finlayson caribou quotas this season as Environment Yukon has a policy to provide a full year’s notice before changing those quotas, Stasyszyn said. However, the department has contacted outfitters in the Ross River area to encourage them to comply with the RRDC’s rules, and to let them know that Finlayson caribou quotas may be affected for the 2019-20 season.

Stasyszyn said it was too early to say whether the Finlayson caribou hunting cancellation will remain in place next season, and that conversations with RRDC are “progressing.” Environment Yukon has also been in touch with other First Nations about how the hunting cancellation in the Ross River area may affect hunting on their traditional territory.

“We understand and respect that if one area of hunting closes, hunters will simply have to go somewhere else, so the pressure never disappears, it kind of just moves around, so we have been in touch with Teslin Tlingit Council and Liard First Nation to have conversations with them,” she said.

While Environment Yukon staff will not be enforcing RRDC’s rules, Stasyszyn said the department is encouraging hunters to respect RRDC’s wishes.

“The laws of general application do not require a permit from (RRDC). However, we do acknowledge that First Nations have been hunting in their traditional territories for generations. They have a special connection to that land and we always ask that hunters have conservation and cooperation at the foremost of their minds when they’re out on the land,” she said.

“At this point in time, we’re encouraging hunters in the Ross River area to contact the Ross River Dena Council and voluntarily comply with their request for, for example, (a) shorter moose and caribou season and reducing hunting in specific areas.”

In an interview July 31, Yukon Fish and Game Association president Charles Shewen said he was “a little surprised and disappointed” about Environment Yukon’s decision to cancel the Finlayson caribou hunt and “concerned” about whether that decision was “based on conservation science.”

However, Shewen added he was glad that the Yukon government has provided “certainty” for hunters about, generally, how the season in the Ross River area will run.

“We’ve been pushing or working with the government … to provide certainty for Yukon hunters in the Ross River territory, and I think that it was very important that we got some certainty there, and so the statement saying that the laws of general application continue to apply is very, very, very important,” he said.

The association is “encouraged” that there are discussions about how to share resources with Kaska, Shewen continued, and will continue to work with Environment Yukon to understand what’s happening.

“A lot of people are just trying to get out on the land and enjoy some time off and put food in the freezer and this has … just snowballed now and I think people are generally kind of mystified, but we’ll keep working on the specific issues with the government,” he said.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Coun. Derrick Redies’ name.

huntingRoss River Dena CouncilYukon government

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

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

A city map shows the property at 107 Range Road. The zoning is now in place for developers to proceed with plans for a Dairy Queen drive-thru. If plans proceed on schedule the new restaurant is anticipated to open in October. (Cyrstal Schick/Yukon News)
October opening eyed for Dairy Queen

Will depend on everything going according to plan

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Artist’s rendering of a Dairy Queen drive-thru. At its April 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved a zoning change to allow a drive-thru at 107 Range Road. Developers sought the change to build a Dairy Queen there. (Submitted)
Drive-thru approved by Whitehorse city council at 107 Range Road

Rezoning could pave the way for a Dairy Queen

xx
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for April 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

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

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

Most Read