The Northwest Territories government announced yesterday that the Bluenose-East caribou herd will remain off limits to ‘resident hunters’  those who’ve lived in the territory for the mandatory two years in order to apply for a ‘resident’ hunting licence.

Survey data shows the herd’s population has plummeted by more than 30,000 animals in the last three years. This year, only aboriginal subsistence hunters will be able to harvest from that herd.

But some resident hunters aren’t sure that’s fair.

“There continues to be an unrestricted harvest of the Bluenose East herd by the hunters who are responsible for 99.9 percent of the harvest,” says resident hunter Ken Hall. “It seems if there is a conservation concern with the herd, there should be restrictions placed on all hunters, not just resident hunters.”

While resident hunters won’t have access to the Bluenose East caribou herd, they will be able to get a tag to harvest one caribou from the Beverly and Ahiak herds. Hunting restrictions there have been loosened for the first time since 2009.

Hall says this is a step in the right direction, but he believes those herds are healthy enough to grant more tags.

GNWT wants mandatory harvest reporting

The GNWT made no suggestion of restricting the aboriginal hunt yesterday, but the territory’s environment minister did promise to work towards mandatory reporting of harvested animals for all hunters.

“By the end of the year, we're going to work with co-management boards and aboriginal government to come to an agreement on reporting so that it's mandatory, because none of us can monitor what we can't count,” said Michael Miltenberger.

Miltenberger wants to see reporting guidelines worked in to the regulations of the territory's new Wildlife Act.