Changes under N.W.T. Wildlife Act aim to protect animals from wild boars, disease

The Northwest Territories government is trying to prevent an attack on wildlife in the territory, and on July 1, it's taking aim at animals that pose a serious threat.

New regulations come into effect across the territory on July 1

Rob Gau with the N.W.T. Department of Environment and Natural Resources says wild boar 'truly, truly destroy the habitat.' (Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images)

Call it a pre-emptive strike.

The Northwest Territories government is trying to prevent an attack on wildlife in the territory, and on July 1, it's taking aim at animals that pose a serious threat.

Llamas, alpacas, domestic sheep and goats are all affected under changes to regulations under the N.W.T. Wildlife Act, announced Friday. Those animals are no longer allowed in the Mackenzie and Richardson Mountains.

Rob Gau, the manager of biodiversity and conservation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, says they pose a real threat to wild sheep populations.

"There is a respiratory disease that is caused by a bacteria that has caused significant declines in wild sheep in many other places in North America," he said. "These domestic species are carriers of this bacteria and contact with our wild sheep populations can really be devastating."

There are also new rules surrounding domestic sheep in wood bison areas. Gau says domestic sheep can carry the malignant catarrhal fever virus, and if they make nose-to-nose contact with bison, the disease can kill the bison they made contact with.

As a result, import, possession, or transport of domestic sheep is only allowed with a domestic animal permit. That includes all current domestic sheep owners in the territory.

Wild boars now classified as 'pests'

And then there's the dreaded wild boars. 

There are none here now, but there's fear the aggressive animals are headed north from Alberta and British Columbia. Wild boars carry diseases, are hard to catch and destroy native habitats. 

"If they were to come to the N.W.T., several things could happen," said Gau. "They truly, truly destroy the habitat. Once they are here, they'll be hard to find, hard to track … they are smart. If one particular animal was killed, they'll get smart and they won't go to that area again."

Wild boars are now classified as pests. That means people can hunt them year-round in the N.W.T. without a licence.

Other regulations announced Friday include new rules for mule and white-tailed deer. Live animals or parts harvested more than 100 kilometres from the N.W.T. border must be tested in order to protect local moose and caribou from chronic wasting disease.

People are also prohibited from destroying unoccupied raptor nests and naturally-occurring bat roosts. However, if the destruction or removal of nests or roosts is necessary, a wildlife general permit is required. 

The government says all of the changes to the Wildlife Act regulations were made after it consulted with Indigenous governments and organizations.


  • A previous version of this story said a new Wildlife Act was coming into effect July 1. In fact, it is new regulations under the act.
    Jul 02, 2019 11:52 AM CT


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