Reindeer herder not worried about oil and gas development

A reindeer herder in the Northwest Territories says there's lots of land and it would be easier to get reindeer meat to market with road access.

A reindeer herder in the Mackenzie Delta region of the Northwest Territories says he's not worried about potential resource development in the area.

The federal government has opened up land near Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik for oil and gas exploration, including a region set aside for reindeer grazing.

Lloyd Binder is the owner of the sole reindeer herd in the Delta. There are roughly 4,000 animals in the herd.

"I don't really think it will impact us all that negatively," he said. "There's lots of land. It's just that these projects like to use a lot of gravel and that seems to be where some of the good lichen beds are for grazing."

Binder says development could benefit his business. He says it would be easier to get reindeer meat to market with road access.

Companies interested in obtaining oil and gas exploration rights are allowed to bid on land within the herd's grazing range, but none have yet. Any exploration requests would be subject to cabinet approval.

Reindeer and caribou are similar animals, but reindeer were domesticated in Europe, whereas caribou roam wild in North America.

In the early 1930s, in an attempt to establish reindeer herding as a livelihood in Canada, the Canadian government bought some 3,000 reindeer from a company in western Alaska and hired Sami herders from northern Europe to bring the animals to the Mackenzie Delta, thousands of kilometres away.