Letters to the editor

Today’s mailbox: Evironment concerns

Letters to the editor published April 1

An open letter to the Post-Election Yukon Premier and Minister of Environment:

The undersigned parties to this letter are major stakeholders in Yukon’s wildlife. Recent decisions and proposals have led us to believe that wildlife in Yukon is neither being managed in the best interest of harvesters and non-consumptive users, nor in keeping with formal wildlife management agreements including the Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA) and therefore every First Nations Final Agreement (FNFA) and their associated wildlife management governance processes. As such, this letter is a clarion call for Yukon Government (YG) and Department of Environment to adopt a revised, long-term conservation philosophy that supports the UFA and FNFA’s with appropriate legislation, regulation, and program funding to ensure ABUNDANT moose, caribou, and sheep Territory wide.

Chapter 1 of the UFA sets out two important definitions with regard to wildlife management in Yukon. The first is Conservation, which means “the management of fish and wildlife…to ensure the quality, diversity and Long-Term Optimum Productivity of fish and wildlife populations, with the primary goal of ensuring a sustainable harvest and its proper utilization.” The second is Long-Term Optimum Productivity, which means “the productivity required to ensure the long-term continuation of a species or population while providing for the needs of Yukon [First Nations] and other harvesters and non-consumptive users of fish and wildlife in the short term.”

YG’s approach to “ensuring a sustainable harvest” is to continually decrease harvest opportunity while neglecting to actively manage wildlife populations and the productivity side of the sustainable harvest equation. We assert the definitions of Conservation and Long-Term Optimum Productivity create a MANDATE for YG to manage wildlife differently than it has in the past based on the UFA’s intent to provide harvest opportunity as a required outcome of wildlife management in Yukon. More specifically, this renewed management approach is intended to augment the current moose, caribou, and sheep populations throughout the territory to a level closer to the carrying capacity of the land they inhabit. This new vision of sustainable harvest opportunity aligns with the expectations of First Nations, licensed hunters, conservation organizations, and nearly all Yukoners. This vision extends beyond our borders to people from around the globe who visit Yukon for a “Larger than Life” experience with wilderness and wildlife viewing as essential components. In short, moose, caribou, and sheep provide an important traditional food source, consumptive and non-consumptive recreation, and economic benefit for a tremendous number of stakeholders. As such, abundance must be the lens through which wildlife management decisions are viewed. We believe achieving the objective of abundant moose, caribou, and sheep will require YG to develop and implement a comprehensive management program covering critical factors in habitat enhancement, access management, stakeholder consultation/education, and wildlife population management (versus population monitoring only).

In this context, the following recent wildlife management actions support our assertion that harvest opportunity is being reduced with no clear plan to change the long-term trajectory of moose, caribou, and sheep populations:

Finlayson Caribou—Resident licensed hunting was terminated on the eve of the 2018 season opening and outfitting quota was removed the following season. This decision on a stable population of ~2700 animals, which saw long-term average licensed harvest of just eight bulls annually, demonstrates YG’s capacity to discount scientific input, while delivering no clear plan to address a perceived conservation concern with respect to this caribou herd.

South Canol Moose—In early 2021, the Minister decided to set aside overwhelming public feedback and Fish & Wildlife Management Board recommendations and place this popular, accessible place to hunt moose on permit. This action was taken citing conservation concern mostly driven by unsupported estimates of mortality other than regulated hunting and was also done without the benefit of recent survey data. This decision will push a significant number of serious moose hunters as well as hundreds of individuals and families who enjoy the outdoors while hunting moose casually to other accessible areas and traditional territories, thereby increasing harvest pressure, competition, and conflict in those areas.

Other Recent Management Actions—Hart River Caribou Permit Hunt, Sifton-Miners Moose Permit Hunt, and various proposed threshold hunts, are part of a seemingly growing list of examples where harvest opportunity is being removed without mechanisms to enhance the population, contrary to the requirement to manage these moose and caribou herds for Long-Term Optimum Productivity. Suffice it to say, any current or future proposed regulations, which limit harvest of ungulates without a commensurate set of proposals designed to improve the species population is a failure to uphold the UFA and protect the public interest.

Finally, the UFA also sets out two important wildlife governance structures consisting of regional oversight from Renewable Resource Councils (RRC’s) and territory-wide oversight from Yukon Fish & Wildlife Management Board (YFWMB), which was established as the “primary instrument of fish and wildlife management.” These groups are the all-important interface between YG and wildlife stakeholders and function as the voice of the Yukon people. While we understand and recognize that recommendations from the RRC’s and YFWMB are ultimately decided by the Minister of Environment, we assert that these groups are not being effectively consulted and informed and are frequently marginalized in their mandate and we fear the voice of the Yukon people is being unduly muted. As such, we write this letter to begin the process of regaining our voice in wildlife management. United, we invite all wildlife stakeholders to join us in this call to the next Yukon Premier and Minister of Environment. United, we call for ABUNDANT moose, caribou, and sheep and all the important benefits they provide to Yukoners!

Initial Signatories,

Yukon Fish & Game Association

Yukon Outfitters Association

Yukon Wild Sheep Foundation

Individuals and organizations can send questions, comments, or requests to become a signatory to: wildlifeyukon@gmail.com

Letters to the editor

Just Posted

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker plead guilty to offences under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Couple who broke isolation rules to get vaccines in Beaver Creek fined $2,300

Crown and defence agreed on no jail time for Rod and Ekaterina Baker


Wyatt’s World for June 16, 2021.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
COVID-19 outbreak surges to 50 active cases in the Yukon

Officials urge Yukoners to continue following guidelines, get vaccinated

Team Yukon during the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse. (Submitted/Sport Yukon)
Whitehorse will bid for 2027 Canada Winter Games

Bid would be submitted in July 2022

File Photo
The overdose crisis, largely driven by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil was the topic of an online discussion hosted by Blood Ties Four Directions Centre and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition on June 8 and 10.
Discussion of overdose crisis in Yukon leaves participants hopeful for future

The forum brought together people including some with personal drug use and addiction experience.

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

For the second year running, the Yukon Quest will not have 1,000 mile race. Crystal Schick/Yukon News
The Yukon Quest will be two shorter distance events instead of a 1,000 mile race

After receiving musher feeback, the Yukon Quest Joint Board of Directors to hold two shorter distances races instead of going forward with the 1,000 mile distance

Western and Northern premiers met this week to discuss joint issues. (Joe Savikataaq/Twitter)
Premiers meet at Northern Premiers’ Forum and Western Premiers’ Conference

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq virtually hosted both meetings this year

The sun sets over Iqaluit on Oct. 26, 2020. Nunavut’s chief public health officer says two COVID-19 cases at Iqaluit’s middle school came from household transmission and the risk to other students is low. (Emma Tranter/Canadian Press)
Iqaluit school’s contacts and classmates cleared after two COVID-19 cases

With an outbreak ongoing in Iqaluit, the Aqsarniit middle school has split students into two groups

An extended range impact weapon is a “less lethal” option that fires sponge or silicon-tipped rounds, according to RCMP. (File photo)
Whitehorse RCMP under investigation for use of “less lethal” projectile weapon during arrest

Police used the weapon to subdue a hatchet-wielding woman on June 4

Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press
Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents.
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

The move comes in response to a call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015

Teslin Lake is one of two bodies of water the Yukon Government has place on flood watch. (Google Maps Image)
Flood watch issued for Teslin Lake, Yukon River at Carmacks

The bodies of water may soon burst their banks due to melting snow and rainfall

Most Read