Hearings on proposed conservation plans for the declining Bluenose East caribou herd begin this morning in Deline, N.W.T.

The hearings are a way for government officials and community members to come to an agreement on how the herd should be managed.

The small Dene community is the first in the N.W.T. to have its own proposed caribou management plan considered by the Sahtu Renewable Resources Board alongside the territorial government's proposal.

Deline's proposed two year plan is based on the community's relationship with caribou, Dene law and culture.

"This is our grandfathers' plan," said Walter Bayha, the senior advisor to the Deline Chief on the caribou conservation plan.

"It's not new. Our grandfathers have always hunted in terms of their relationship with wildlife, their land and the water. I think that's why it's so important. All we are doing is bringing that information forward, the knowledge of our people."

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Bluenose-East herd has declined from about 68,000 caribou in 2013 to between 35,000 and 40,000 in 2015.

During the hearings other Sahtu communities will weigh in on the plan and ask questions.

The Sahtu Renewable Resource Board will compile a report on the hearings, including a decision by May 16.