North

N.W.T. gov't upping reward for wolves hunted in designated area

The Enhanced North Slave Wolf Harvest pilot project launches this year. It designates a wolf management area where hunters can hunt animals and return them to the N.W.T. government rewards of up to $1,650.

Pilot project meant to help manage barren ground caribou herds in N.W.T, says biologist

A new wolf management area has been put in place in the North Slave region. Hunters who kill wolves in this area could get a cheque for twice as much as they used to per carcass. (Michael Hugall/CBC)

The Northwest Territories government is increasing rewards for hunters who kill wolves around Wekweeti, N.W.T.

Nathan Kogiak, 36, has been hunting for almost 25 years. He plans to do a whole lot more hunting this winter, now that the territory's Department of Environment and Natural Resources is upping its offer on wolf carcasses.

The Enhanced North Slave Wolf Harvest pilot project launched last week. It establishes a wolf management area where hunters can kill animals and return them to the territorial government for rewards of up to $1,650.

"It just makes sense," said Kogiak about participating in the department's new program.

Nathan Kogiak said money is a motivating factor for taking part in the program. (Submitted by Nathan Kogiak)

"I'm not making as much money from trapping as I usually do … this wolf pilot program will help me offset the money that I'm losing from the animals that aren't selling as high at auction."

Kogiak has spent time on the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road looking for wolves. Though so far unsuccessful, he is undeterred.

"The money is the main thing, that's a huge incentive for everyone," he said. 

In recent years, monitoring has shown it is likely wolves preying on caribou is contributing to population decline, said Bruno Croft, a superintendent and biologist with the environment department. The decrease in caribou has also been linked to nutritional stress caused by climate change, he said.

Why the North Slave?

The new wolf management area is roughly 76,000 square kilometres, which amounts to about 45 per cent of the North Slave Region, said Joslyn Oosenbrug, a spokesperson for the environment department.

It was chosen because monitoring done by the territorial government has shown the Bathurst, Bluenose-East and Beverly caribou herds have been travelling together through this area for the past three winters, said Croft.

He said this hasn't happened in the past.  

The wolf management area covers roughly 76,000 square kilometres of land in the N.W.T, which amounts to about 45 per cent of North Slave region. (Michael Hugall/CBC)

"The majority of the Bluenose caribou are located within this area and two of those three herds have been published lately as declining rapidly," said Croft.  

In November, the environment department said there were about 8,200 Bathurst caribou in 2018, compared with 20,000 in 2015. The number of Bluenose-East caribou dropped by 20,000 in the same three-year period.

Bruno Croft is a superintendent and biologist at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. (Andrew Pacey/CBC)

How it works

If wolves that are harvested meet taxidermy and traditional standards, hunters could get a cheque for up to $1,650. This includes $900 per carcass, plus $400 for a pelt and an extra $350 if the pelt is sold at auction for more than $200.   

Taxidermy standards require that the nose and lips are carefully skinned, and material is left around the eyes, ears, lips and anal opening. To meet traditional standards, the feet and head can be cut off, and blood or dirt must be washed out before the pelt is dried.

Before the new pilot program, the most a North Slave region hunter could make per wolf was $800. This cap still applies to hunters from outside the wolf management area.

Hunters must check into patrol stations before hunting in the wolf management area. This ensures they are not bringing in wolves from outside, said Croft.

The stations are located along the winter road at Gordon Lake and Wekweeti.

The pilot program is set to end in mid-April, after which the government may release the number of wolves killed, said Croft.

"It's hard to say at this time what we will see in terms of numbers [of wolves]," he said.

"If you go back to the existing program … we got 40 to 50 animals per year. If we get that many in one specific area I think it will be a good start." 

Corrections

  • This story has been updated to clarify which patrol stations the hunters must check in to.
    Feb 13, 2019 11:06 AM CT

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