The Yellowknives Dene First Nation and the GNWT have signed an agreement to support recovery of the Bathurst Caribou Herd.
On Oct. 7, the agreement was signed by Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Michael Miltenberger and YKDFN Chiefs Edward Sangris of the Dettah and Ted Tsetta of N’dilo.
The interim agreement will remain in effect for two years as a way to help the caribou herd recover its numbers. The herd was surveyed at 32,000 last year, down from 128,000 in 2006.
With the agreement, the YKDFN and GNWT agree to form a joint committee, the Ekwo Committee, to monitor health and numbers of the caribou using both scientific and traditional knowledge, maximizing the involvement of YKDFN members; create a hunter education program for TJDFN hunters and establish a joint monitoring program for the caribou harvest, including monitoring the winter road station, snowmobile trails and check stops.
The agreement also states that seven members of the YKDFN, including a co-ordinator will be hired to assist in the monitoring program.
In terms of harvesting, the document states that the YKDFN may harvest 50 Bathurst caribou from the no-hunting management zone during the fall community hunt, 100 during the mid-winter hunt from December to April and a limit of 50 caribou from other herds within the Chief Drygeese area during an annual supplemental fall community hunt.
Individual members of the YKDFN may harvest up to 200 caribou from other herds within the Chief Drygeese area in the no-hunting zone.
The no-hunting zone was implemented on Jan. 1 and outraged Dene leaders, as this area is where the caribou are known to winter.
The final points include the GNWT agreeing to include the YKDFN in the development of a long-term management plan and for t he agreement to be reviewed after one year to assess the trends of the herd and review the harvest.
“This is an example of what can be accomplished by working together while respecting rights and traditional laws,” said Sangris in a news release.