Yukon’s big wildlife management challenge? Rolling the elephant

Prescriptive, ad hoc, reactionary: these are some of the ways Yukon's wildlife protection regime is described by Don Hutton, co-chair of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board.

Prescriptive, ad hoc, reactionary: these are some of the ways Yukon’s wildlife protection regime is described by Don Hutton, co-chair of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board.

“It’s not that it’s not working,” he said. “It’s not working as well as it could.”

He hopes this will soon change.

The board, along with representatives of Yukon’s renewable resource committees and the salmon sub-committee, announced last week an initiative they hope will usher in a “new era” of wildlife management, with an agreement that will see these parties work more collaboratively at fixing wildlife management problems before they blow up, rather than after the fact.

“We’re in a time of transition. Maybe it’s going to get messy for a while. Change doesn’t come easy – especially changing how government does things. We’re trying to roll over the elephant.”

Currently, wildlife managers often find themselves two steps behind every problem. By the time new hunting regulations for a species of concern have been approved, a new problem has already emerged.

For Hutton and others, the solution lies in using detailed management plans for species of concern. The territory also needs a comprehensive fish and wildlife strategy to help tie these plans together, he said.

“It’s going to be a huge undertaking,” he said. “We’ve never had one.”

That’s where the elephant comes in. All these undertakings are up to the territorial government.

“We hope and expect that we’ll be taken seriously,” said Hutton.

Now is a time of flux for Yukon’s wildlife. Hutton lists a few examples of animal sightings that would have been unheard of 20 years ago: cougars have been spotted near Old Crow during the summer; polar bears have been seen along the Dempster Highway, and deer are venturing from British Columbia into southern Yukon.

No better time, then, to overhaul how wildlife is managed, before things get really bogged down.

Currently, the board and RRCs spend most of their time and energy dealing with administrative chores. They’re overwhelmed and underfunded, said Hutton.

The Umbrella Final Agreement, which spawned Yukon’s bevy of wildlife organizations, talks of community-based wildlife management. To date, Yukon hasn’t seen much of this in practice, said Wade Istchenko, co-chair of the Alsek RRC.

“We’re looking at taking that back,” he said.

So far, the Yukon government hasn’t been afraid to dismiss recommendations made by RRCs that don’t jive with the advice of territorial staff.

Such was the case this summer, when the Yukon government flouted the advice of the Lake Laberge RRC. It wanted a ban on hunting sheep on Pilot Mountain until the fragile sheep population rebounded in numbers.

The next time such a dispute occurs, expect other RRCs to pile in.

“Working together always works better,” said Istchenko. “A neighbourhood watch is always a good idea.”

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

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

Just Posted

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

adsf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Ken Anderson’s Sun and Moon model sculpture sits in the snow as he carves away at the real life sculpture behind Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre for the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival in Whitehorse on Feb. 21, 2018. Yukon Rendezvous weekend kicks off today with a series of outdoor, virtual and staged events. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Rendezvous snowpad, live music and fireworks this weekend

A round-up of events taking place for the 2021 Rendezvous weekend

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. The proposed Atlin Hydro Expansion project is moving closer to development with a number of milestones reached by the Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership and Yukon Energy over the last several months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Atlin hydro project progresses

Officials reflect on milestones reached

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read