Caribou Numbers in the NWT The Outfitter’s Battle Opening Statement
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1.The outfitting industry for barren ground caribou in the Northwest Territories started in 1982.
2. Qaivvik, Ltd. was started in 1984, an NWT corporation owned by Mike Freeleand and Fred Webb. John & Anita Andre purchased the business in 1999, and have operated it under the name of Courageous Lake Caribou Camps until the present time . A quota of 132 tags came with the original business. Fred normally hosted 45-60 hunters per year.
3. In 2000, The GNWT Department Resources, Wildlife, & Economic Development Corporation, granted the outfitters a 180 tag quota, due to healthy and increasing caribou herds.
4. In 2001, John and Anita, having upgraded substantially the camp and equipment at the Courageous Lake Camp, were faced with more demand for their hunts than they could provide. We therefore built the camp on the east end of Lac de Gras.
5. In 2003, having, again, more demand than supply, we purchased Don Cadieux”s Caribou Pass Outfitters, Ltd. This provided us with an additional 180 tags. We built 6 new cabins, and refurbished the entire camp, to bring it up to the standards set at our other two camps.
7. Running our business at full capacity, which is a must if it is to be profitable, given the level of service we provide, we host 216 hunters per year at all three camps. Success rate has run about 98 per cent over a 22 year period. We utilize about 400 tags per year, with about 40 tags coming from the pool of unused tags, provided by other outfitters not utilizing their 180 tag quotas.
8. There are currently 10 outfitters on the barrens in the N.W.T.- 7 Non-HTA and 3 HTA (Hunter-Trapper Associations.)
9. Total tag quota was 1260 for non-HTA and 396 for HTA outfitters, for a total of 1656 tags.
10. Non-resident hunters are allowed two caribou tags each
In June of 2006, the Bathurst herd was surveyed, and was down to 128,000 caribou. Minister Miltenberger, of the ENR , told the outfitting industry that they were cutting our tag quotas back to the pre-2000 level of 132 tags, for the 2007 season. At the same time, resident hunters were reduced from 5 tags to 2 tags, and bulls only. (The harvest of mature bulls has consistently been shown to have zero effect on overall ungulate population growth.) The outfitting industry, although not necessarily agreeing with their numbers or science, wanted to do their part to help the caribou, and so we accepted this slashing of our industry by nearly 30%.
The fact is, we hadn’t looked at the numbers carefully enough.
5. At 5:00 P.M., Friday night, December 15 (I’m surprised they didn’t pick December 7), we receive an e-mail from Mr. Ernie Campbell of the ENR, that he was cutting outfitter tag quotas to 35 per outfitter for the 2007 season. This would be his proposal to the Wek’eezhii Board the following Wednesday. (This is a new First Nation governmental board, meeting for the first time. Mr. Ray Case and Mr. Ernie Campbell, both of the ENR, sit on the board.) It is my opinion that the ENR hoped to railroad this proposal through the new board without the outfitters input. This proposal effectively ends the outfitting industry ( a 6 million dollar a year renewable resource industry, providing 100s of jobs, primarily to aboriginals.)
6. Following this blind sided attack from the government, the MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) came to our rescue, and were able to back the ENR down temporarily. This was December 19, 2006. The new Wek’eezhii Board tabled the issue for the moment.
At this point, I realized something didn’t make sense. The actions of the ENR were simply not logical. There was no inclusion; there was no common sense being applied to the issues. There were dozens of Win-Win options to solve the issues. This is how the situation should have been handled:
In the pre RWED-Split days, this is how this problem would have been addressed. RWED would have called us into a room, or as individuals, and said:
“Hey guys, the caribou numbers are dropping. We need your cooperation. We want to get a better handle on some harvest issues, but we can’t do that without some balance. Let’s slide the tag numbers back to the 1999 number, and we’ll try to sort this thing out. History shows if we can harvest a few more wolves than we have been, maybe tighten up the aboriginal harvest a bit through education, get a solid non-resident meat donation program in place, cut back the resident harvest a bit, we can turn this thing around. We know this is part of a natural cycle, so let’s work our way through it together. We’ll do another survey in a couple of years, and hopefully, the management actions will start to take effect and we can warrant a tag increase. It takes time to get a decline fully turned around, and we may only be able to get you partway back to the 180 tags at first, but we’ll see what we can do, and we’ll work on this problem together” But that’s not what happened.
At this point, I started to do a little independent research. Something was wrong, but I wasn’t sure what. I have been researching every day, 12-16 hours a day, ever since.
7. On December 20, the government demanded to know how many hunts we had booked for the 2007 season. Our theory is they were going to be magnanimous enough to give us enough tags to honor those hunts already booked. This, of course, is patently unfair to some of the outfitters, who book their hunts at sports shows, January to April. Other outfitters, such as Courageous Lake, book up well in advance. It also saved the government money, because they are on the hook for deposits of tourism businesses that go broke.
8. On Thursday, January 4, the outfitters met with the Premier, Mr. Joe Handley. He refused to look at any of the numbers, saying he was going to decide this issue based on politics. I’m not sure what that means, but apparently that is how the government plans to manage wildlife in the Northwest Territories in the future.
9. The following Monday, the outfitters were told that they would be allowed to have 750 tags for this season, divided proportionately by the number we used in 2006. For Courageous Lake, that meant that we would have approximately 205 tags for our two companies. That represents approximately 50% cut in our business for this year.
In the past six months, this has been the changes from the GNWT in my companies’ tag quotas:
360 Then 264 Then 70 Then 205 Then? Then 44
11. Now, as of January 21, 2007, The ENR is apparently considering dividing the 750 total tags for 2007 in a different manner. This would cut our 2007 quota to 150.
12. I have a degree in Economics and Marketing, but I must have skipped the class on YoYos 101. I may not be the world’s brightest guy, but I have managed to run a few successful businesses in my time. I thought that, in a capitalist society, it was the government’s job to create an atmosphere of certainty and stability. Is this Canada or Zimbabwe? How the Government of the Northwest Territories expects anyone to operate a business under these constantly changing parameters, is absolutely beyond the scope of my limited abilities.
13. On January 17, 2007, I initiated discussions with my attorney to declare bankruptcy for the largest outfitting company in the Northwest Territories. Termination notices will be going out to forty people, all across Canada.
And all of the above, is based on the following:
“The Bathurst herd has declined 5% every year since 1986, from 476,000, down to 128,000. “
ENR Deputy Minister Bob Bailey, January 11, 2007 Press Release
Please look carefully at the government’s own numbers, and what they have said in years past, and what they are saying now. Do the math, use some critical thinking skills, and, you too, will start to connect the dots.
This is our story. Please feel free to share it with anyone that has any interest in good government, and good wildlife management. Share it with biologists and other scientists. Perhaps they can explain these numbers to us. We’ve asked the ENR to explain them to us, but they have not been interested in sitting down at the table and going over the facts.
Caribou in the NWT, according to the ENR
Source: CARMA website,
using GNWT numbers
Herd Numbers for Barren Ground
Caribou in the NWT, According to the ENR
Source: GNWT Website
Comparison Graph of 1980 vs. 2006 NWT Barren Ground Caribou Herds
This is a 336% increase.
Source: CARMA website
1980 Population of Barren Ground Caribou in the NWT:354,000
The 354,000 is based on adding up the GNWTs four herd estimates in 1980. (Source:CARMA website) The Bathurst Herd in 1980 was 140,000 caribou.
2006 Population of Caribou in the NWT:
1,188,000 is the number derived from adding up the current government estimates of the barren ground herds in the NWT, based on their website. The 1,534,000 caribou is the number ENR gave to the Federal Government in 2005 for a cervid (deer family) base count on Chronic Wasting Disease.
In 2004/2005 “As part of its work on the National Chronic Wasting Disease Control Strategy, The CCWHC assembled population estimates for wild cervids (deer family) from wildlife agencies across the country.” The number that the ENR gave to the agency is:
1,534,000 caribou in the NWT*
We believe the reason for the discrepancy between the 1,188,000 caribou and the 1,534,000 caribou is that the latter number probably includes Woodland caribou. This has not been independently confirmed with the government.
* Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre, Volume 11, Fall of 2005, #1
2.Why are ten outfitting businesses in North Slave fighting for their very existence???
3.Why have the outfitters in Inuvik had there caribou tags confiscated???
4. Why do hundreds of people, many of them aboriginals, have to lose their jobs???
5. Why is the Number One Tourist Industry in the NWT being shut down?
In order to understand how the ENR is manipulating the figures, we need some background information and to establish consistent definitions.
There were four “herds” of mainland caribou.
Biologists have argued over the years how many caribou herds there really are. 1n 1954 we had 16 herds. There were four in 1986. At the present time, the ENR says we have 7 herds.
Aboriginal knowledge tells us there is one great herd of caribou.
In the late 1990s, the ENR did not magically find three more herds of caribou. They simply carved the Bluenose Herd and the Bathurst Herd up, for study purposes, into five herds instead of two, based on theoretical calving grounds. (It is not a big deal, until you start using calving ground definitions for management purposes. More on that later)
The “definition” of the Bathurst herd changed from what it was in 1986. In order to compare the status of the herds between 1986 and 2006, we must be using the same definition. This is not rocket science, and the outfitters have repeatedly pointed this out to the ENR, but they have ignored us. Why??? Certainly the ENR understands the Scientific Method, and that you can’t compare “Apples to Oranges.”
The “creation” of the Ahiak herd was clearly the separation of caribou out of the traditional Bathurst caribou calving ground and overall annual range. It was not simply the renaming of the Queen Maud Gulf herd. In 1986 the Queen Maud Gulf herd, which had always been thought of as a rather obscure, relatively unstudied herd, had a population of 10,000. In 1996, when the Ahiak Herd was “created” it had a population of 200,000.* 190,000 of these caribou were carved out of the Bathurst Caribou Herd. A study of the following maps, of both the calving ground overlap, and the annual rutting and winter ranges, clearly demonstrates this.
* CARMA website-Ahiak herd profiles
prior to the “creation” of the Cape Bathurst, Bluenose West, Bluenose East, and Ahiak Herds
Source: Chris Hanks, Environmental Scientist
Source: Chris Hanks, Environmental Scientist
*Source: An Estimate of Breeding Females in the Bathurst Herd of Barren-Ground Caribou June 2003 Ann Gunn, et. al.
GNWT Map of Caribou Herd’s Annual Ranges, bases on Collared Caribou
Source: GNWT Website
Formula for converting the “new” (Year 2000) Bathurst Herd to conform with the “old” (Year 1986) definition, so that we can compare “Apples to Apples.”
Old Bathurst Herd = New Bathurst Herd + Ahiak Herd - old Queen Maud Gulf Herd + .5 Bluenose East Herd
By creating a constant definition, we can now start to make valid number comparisons.
128,000 (2006 Bathurst Herd) plus 200,000 (Ahiak Herd) less 10,000 (old Queen Maud Gulf Herd) plus .5 x 66,000(Bluenose Herd East) equals
ENR Deputy Minister Bob Bailey, January 11, 2007 Press Release
Now that we have our definitions straight, we can examine their numbers a little more closely.
476,000Caribou in 1986
This is arguably the most important caribou number ever produced by the ENR.
It is a number that is being used to destroy people’s lives, and businesses, and to ruin a segment of the Tourism Industry that has been supported by thousands of taxpayer dollars for nearly a quarter of a century. Let’s look at it a little more carefully, since it’s such an important number.
“The very large increase (280%) in Bathurst herd size observed between 1982 (174,000) and 1986 (486,000) was likely due to a combination of increased recruitment and immigration. It is possible that caribou from the Queen Maud Gulf area (northeast Mainland Herd), where caribou inhabit the tundra year-round, may have been included in the Bathurst calving ground survey. Such changes may represent real growth to an individual herd, however managers and resource users must recognize that the immigration of animals from one herd will result in the reduction of the size of an adjacent herd.”
*The Status and Management of the Bathurst Caribou Herd, Northwest Territories, Canada, Ray Case, Laurie Buckland, Mark Williams, RWED, GNWT, 1996
“The interpretation of calving ground estimates is based on the assumption that all cows in the herd return to the same area every year to calve. That assumption has never been tested in the Northwest Territories. Heard and Calef suggested that recent increases in the Kaminuriak and Bathurst herds may have been due to massive immigration.”*
*Herd Identity and Calving Ground Fidelity of Caribou in the Keewatin District of the Northwest Territories. Douglas C. Heard & Gordon Stenhouse, RWED, 1992
The Government of the Northwest Territories freely admits that this is a flawed survey, a survey where two herds have gotten together. It is simply not biologically possible for the herd to have grown from 174,000 to 476,000 in four years, given anywhere near normal annual predation and other mortality rates.
The question is, why would highly educated men, people with masters and doctorates in wildlife biology, pick a caribou survey that was obviously skewed??? A caribou survey tainted by immigration of another herd onto the Bathurst Herd calving ground. Why??
To give the scientists the benefit of the doubt, the public should ask, did the scientists have an alternative survey from which to start?
From 1977 to 1982, the Bathurst Herd was surveyed 5 times in 6 years. The numbers ranged from 110,000 to 174,000, with an average of 142,200.A solid number, based on five surveys in six years. A number that would help average out the problems with aerial calving ground surveys, such as poor weather, caribou failing to aggregate on the calving grounds, observer bias, etc.* A number with which most scientists could agree would be a solid starting point for comparison purposes.
But there was a problem with using the above number.
It didn’t fit the agenda.
*See Surveys of the Beverly Caribou Calving Grounds 1957-1994, pages 18-23 , Ann Gunn, 1997 for more details on caribou calving ground problems.
This is how the trendline looks based on solid, scientifically defensible numbers.
Wolves are the number one cause of calf mortality in the caribou herds. ENR biologist Ann Gunn stated that 60-80 percent of calf mortality (of calves born alive) was due to wolf predation. There is plenty of wolf science out there, along with wolf population estimates, but none of it is that great. I think most scientists could agree that wolves eat 25-35 caribou a year, some say as many as the biomass equivalent of 60. Wolf population estimates in the NWT run from 1500 to 10,000. Taking a low number, say 2000, this gives us a wolf predation range of between 50,000 and 70,000. This does not, of course, count caribou killed and not eaten, a phenomenon that is well documented. Looking at the higher range, wolves could be taking upwards of 250,000 a year. The truth is, scientists just don’t know. What we do have is significant anecdotal evidence of wolf predation and its affect on caribou herds. Int the 1980s, the State of Alaska stopped aerial gunning for wolves. By the 1990s, caribou and moose populations had plummeted. Similarly, wolf controls in British Columbia were ended, and the Mountain Caribou population crashed. Here in the Northwest Territories, there was a significant wolf harvest in 1980. (See following chart), and from that point to 2006, the caribou flourished. If the government caribou population trends start to show loss of calf recruitment, than increased wolf harvesting should be, in our opinion, the primary management tool used to reverse that trend. With overall hunter harvest of 5700, according to the ENR, and wolf harvest between 50,000 and 250,000, the most beneficial management action for the caribou is fairly obvious.
Year the outfitting industry begins
Bathurst Management Plan
This is the year when the Bathurst Herd starts to flourish
In all fairness to the ENR, there is tremendous outside pressure on them from anti-hunters around the world to eliminate all wolf hunting. Log onto www.tundrawolves.org. and you will see the propaganda campaign there about hunting wolves. When non-resident hunters this year were granted an extra wolf tag, the anti-hunters immediately termed this a “commercial wolf cull.”The actual figures from the GNWT show that the extra wolf tag, given to 555 hunters, produced one extra dead wolf, from 26 wolves in 2005, to 27 wolves in 2007. So much for the “commercial wolf cull.”
with Calving Ground Aerial Surveys
1. Governmental biologist Ann Gunn states: “While aerial surveys are currently the only practical way to estimate the density of caribou populations, they suffer from severe limitations. A visibility bias is present often of unknown size; it not only is a bias but causes loss of repeatability. This bias is then affected, also in unknown ways, by several factors including aircraft speed, altitude, strip width, observer ability, weather and habitat type. Caughley et al. (1976) believed that refinement of techniques would probably never completely eliminate visibility bias….accuracy has been reported to range from 30 to 80 percent (Caughley 1974, LeResche and Rausch 1974.)*
*Study Design to Measure Distributional Changes of Barren-Ground Caribou Near a Winter Road, Pages 26-27, 1981, Kent Jingfors, Ann Gunn;
2. In 1997, Ann Gunn, in her “Surveys of the Beverly Caribou Calving Grounds” said “The confidence with which we have mapped the Beverly’s herd calving grounds is also influenced by two quite separate sources of uncertainty-technical and environmental. Listed here are five technical uncertainties: changes in survey design, changes in timing, weather, adequacy of coverage, and missing data.”
Ms. Gunn goes on to discuss in detail how the survey design has changed over the years, so one survey may not be comparable to another survey. Ms. Gunn also goes on to detail all of the problems with the five technical uncertainties.
3. In the same report, Ms. Gunn also discusses environmental problems: “The environmental uncertainties that are incorporated in the composite map are those ecological variables, unpredictable from year to year, that affect the caribou’s distribution and behaviour. The most prominent is annual variations in weather.
4. In 1993, biologists surveyed the Beverly Caribou Herd, using the same caribou calving ground method and found 87,000 caribou. The next year, they surveyed the Beverly Caribou Herd and found 267,000 caribou, three times as many in one year.
87,000 to 267,000 in One Year!!!
How Reliable Can These Surveys Be???
The government’s explanation of this “bad” survey, was that the caribou didn’t “aggregate” well on the calving ground. “If the caribou must trudge through deep, wet, or crusted snow during spring migration, some cows may be delayed in reaching the calving ground” Ann Gunn, 1997* In other words, the caribou had their babies in the taxi, instead of the hospital.
*Surveys of the Beverly Caribou Calving Grounds 1957-1994, A. Gunn & M. Sutherland, RWED, 1997
*Caribou Distribution on the Bathurst Calving Grounds, GNWT, June 1995. Anne Gunn, GNWT, 1996
7. “This effect of imprecision extends further when extrapolated to total herd size.
Critics of calving ground photography (Thomas in prep.) have used this problem of low precision as the rationale to drop the technique”
Ann Gunn, GNWT
8. In regards to the 2006 Bathurst Caribou Survey, we have been unable to examine it, as of 1/22/2007, because Bruno Croft of the ENR tells us it doesn’t exist. (Please bear in mind, this was Bruno’s first year of leading the survey, following Ms. Gunn’s retirement.) Our feeling is it will magically appear sometime down the line, probably at the request of a judge. Likewise, the raw data. We do know that the survey missed at least three days of flying, and that half the collared caribou did not aggregate on the calving grounds (see map of collared caribou, June 5, 2006.) Please bear in mind that each collared caribou represents approximately 30,000 caribou. As you can see, half the collared caribou decided to be elsewhere at calving time. One decided to become a Bluenose caribou, and the other five decided to party with the Ahaik herd. The Bathurst Herd may be shifting back to its traditional calving ground, east of Bathurst Inlet. Of course, if they do that, they will become Ahiak caribou. Right???
Source: GNWT Website
Please remember one thing. The outfitters are the ones who have to tell our employees, with children, and bills to pay, and mortgages, and dreams, that they no longer have a job. And we have to answer to millions of sportsmen around the globe, that will want to know how we could let the beautifully vast barren-lands of the Northwest Territories be closed to them forever.
1.In 1996, Ray Case, of the ENR said” The Bathurst herd and range appear to be in very good condition.” *
2. “Since 1980, the estimates of breeding females suggested that the Bathurst herd had increased between 1980 and 1986 (four surveys) and was stable from 1986 to 1996 (two surveys). Our results suggest that the number of breeding females on the calving ground is almost identical to the number estimated in 1990. Between 1986 and 1990, Heard and Williams (Appendix C and D) concluded that the apparent decrease was not statistically significant. The overall trend, then, since 1990 is stable.” Ann Gunn, 1996
10 years of studying caribou, 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, for 10 years, and the herd is “stable.” Now we find out 10 years later, that the herd was dropping 5% a year???
Why would the ENR give out more tags for a herd that has been decreasing 5% every year for 15 years???
Now, let’s look at the Department of Environmental Resouces Harvest Numbers
Commercial Meat Tags 75
Outfitted Hunts 769
1. Mr. Campbell states that this is 4.5 percent of the 2006 herd size.
2. Mr. Campbell also states “Using the Precautionary Principle, ENR is recommending tht harvest levels not exceed four percent of the 2006 herd size. This equals 5120 animals.” In 1996, Ray Case says the Precautionary Principle was 6.5% allowable, down to 5.7% for precaution. When did the ENR decide that 4% was a better number? We have found no documentation for this sudden change.
*Souce: ENR Proposal to the Wek’Eezii Board, E-mail to John Andre from Ernie Campbell, ENR, 12/15/2006
Primary Resident Harvest Area
Primary Non-resident Harvest Area
In the Annual Harvesting Reports, put out by the GNWT, the government refers to harvested numbers as “Barren-ground Caribou.” Likewise, the attached map from the GNWT Hunting Area Map, describes the areas for hunting “Barren-ground Caribou.”
1. The question arises, when did everyone start harvesting just “Bathurst Caribou”???
2. Does a Bathurst caribou taste different than an Ahiak caribou, or a Bluenose East caribou?
3. When a hunter goes to shoot a caribou, does his buddy say:” Wait a minute Joe, don’t shoot that one. That’s an Ahiak caribou!, the ENR says we are only supposed to shoot Bathurst Caribou.”
4. If a Bluenose West caribou migrates to a harvest area, will the hunter be arrested for shooting one?
Again, Aboriginal Knowledge tells us we are harvesting from only one great herd.
As anyone can see, in the regulations, all the harvesters are shooting “Barren-Ground Caribou”. But, when it suits the ENRs agenda, they, all of a sudden, all transform into Bathurst Caribou.
Source: GNWT Hunting Regulations, Page 17
Since Outfitters and Residents can harvest only bulls, the question arises, to which herd does a bull belong??
1. Most bulls don’t return to the calving grounds, since they have already done their job (See Biology 101). So how does the ENR propose we assign them to one of seven “herds”.
2. Does a bull belong to the herd they calved in? Since they don’t collar bulls, ENR has no clue as to their actual range.
3. Does a bull belong to the last cow they mated with? She might hope so, but He might have other ideas.
3. If a bull mates with cows from different herds, is the bull being unfaithful or are the cows being unfaithful?
The point here is, assigning caribou in the harvesting areas to a specific herd based on calving grounds is an impossibility. Now do you understand why the aboriginals always insist on the inclusion of aboriginal knowledge?
*The Status and Management of the Bathurst Caribou Herd, Ray Case, Laurie Buckland, and Mark Wiliams, RWED, 1996
If the current Bathurst population is 351,000 (using the same herd definitions as in 1996,) then the total allowable harvest, using the precautionary principle, should be 5.7% of that, or 20,007 caribou. Government officials tell us that all users harvested approximately 5744 in 2006.
So why is the ENR trying to shut down the outfitting industry, when their own numbers say the herd is under-harvested, according to the precautionary principle, by 14,263 caribou??
Ray Case of the ENR said this in 1996: “In order to ensure that outfitting and commercial meat quota are not susceptible to minor fluctuations in herd size, productivity, and other harvest activities, the Department has:
a) Established an upper limit on commercial quotas of 0.75% of total population.”*
Mr. Case also stated: “A main management objective for the Bathurst herd is to maintain a population level high enough to sustain a harvest of at least 16,000 annually. A population of between 300,000 and 600,000 has been identified as the range which will meet this objective.”
Please remember, this was in 1996, before they split the Bathurst Herd into three herds.
.075 multiplied by 351,000 Caribou (using a 1996 herd definition), there should be 2,632 commercial tags allowed. We are merely seeking to be restored to 63% of the allowable number, or 1656 total tags.
*The Status and Management of the Bathurst Caribou Herd, Ray Case, Laurie Buckland, and Mark Wiliams, RWED, 1996
The Cape Bathurst Herd StoryThis is the “precedent” and the “science” the government is using to shut down the North Slave Outfitters and possibly move on to a bigger agenda.
“The Cape Bathurst herd was first censused as a distinct herd in 2000. A photocensus was completed in early July 2000, however due to cool windy weather, the herd did not aggregate very well. As a result the population estimate of 10, 013 obtained for 2000 should be considered a minimum. Data obtained during photocensus surveys completed on the “Bluenose” herd in 1987, 1998, and 2000 were re-analyzed to estimate population trends.
Another photocensus was conducted during the summer of 2005. The results of this census show the Cape Bathurst herd has declined to an estimate of 2,400 animals. A photocensus survey, completed in July, 2006, showed that the Cape Bathurst Herd had declined further to an estimated 1,800 animals.
Calving ground surveys were done to estimate productivity. In 2002 and 2003 cow calf ratios in late June were 32 and 47 calves per 100 cows, respectively. The cow calf ratios appear to have increased during recent years.”
“The Cape Bathurst herd was first censused as a distinct herd in 2000. A photocensus was completed in early July 2000, however due to cool windy weather, the herd did not aggregate very well. As a result the population estimate of 10, 013 obtained for 2000 should be considered a minimum.” *
1. of the Arctic Circle? What kind of weather were they expecting?
2. “10,013 should be considered a minimum.” No where else have I seen a scientist make a statement like that. It’s a number, with a confidence range, either way. Watch carefully, now, the Inuvik Outfitters are being set up for the kill.
3. Then the government goes back and “reworks” the 1987 Bluenose Caribou Survey. (We asked for the reworked data, but haven’t heard anything from Mr. John Nagy, GNWT biologist. )
5. Because they wanted to show a trendline, with the Cape Bathurst caribou herd crashing, from 1987, to 2005. 14,000 caribou in 1987, down to 2400 in 2005.
6 Which is what they showed, and then they took away the outfitter’s tags.The people in that region have hunted caribou there for thousands of years, and in six years of phony science, the government takes that right away, simply because the caribou moved to the normal Bluenose calving ground, around the Hornaday River. The Cape Bathurst herd didn’t die, they just moved, and the fact is, they never existed as a separate herd in the first place.
In the 1978-79 Bluenose Caribou Survey they said this:
“The precise location of calving grounds varied between 1978 and 1979, but remained roughly centred in the area east of Hornaday River. Hawley et al. (1976, 1979) believed that calving might have occurred on Bathurst Peninsula in 1974-1976. However, in 1978 and 1979 we sighted only one and three cow/calf pairs in the area respectively.” *
One cow in 1978. Three cows in 1979.
1 cow and one calf caribou in 1978. Were they the “Adam & Eve” of the Cape Bathurst Herd??? I don’t think so.
*Bluenose Caribou Surveys, 1978-1979. D.Brackett, et al, GNWT, 1982
In other words, the government created the Cape Bathurst Herd in 2000, knowing that the “herd” was not always faithful to the Cape Bathurst calving ground, and that, eventually, that “herd” would fail. It would leave that calving ground for one to the east, and the “scientists” could conclude the “herd” was in danger.
Following are some details regarding the 2005 Cape Bathurst Caribou Survey, the one used to show the “vast decline”*
* We have asked for survey details and data, but have received no response from the government.
In 2005, John Nagy, regional ENR biologist, gave a slideshow at CARMA in Vancouver, discussing the demise of the Cape Bathurst Caribou Herd. The next slide is a photograph from his 2005 survey. It is dated July 17, 2005.
In other words, he surveyed a herd in early to mid-July, almost six weeks after peak calving, a herd that had historically been surveyed in early June. And then this information was used to close down hunting in the Inuvik region.
I do not know the conditions or the reasons that the survey was done late. But one would think, that extra special care would be taken when one knows that the management actions, based on that survey, involve people’s livelihoods, investments, and futures. I believe that would come under the heading of good and responsible science and government.
*A Population Estimate of the Bluenose Caribou Herd in 1981, P. Latour and D. Heard, NWT Wildlife Service, 1985
Source: John Nagy Powerpoint Presentation, CARMA 2005 Workshop
2006 Government Estimates put the Cape Bathurst, Bluenose East, and Bluenose West herd at 87,800. (Using consistent herd definitions, we would put the herd at 54,800.)
Mr. Nagy says the herds are crashing, and hunting has to be stopped. In the same slideshow, he also says about the Cape Bathurst Herd ”qualitative observations suggest lichen have been overgrazed on portions of the winter range.” About the Bluenose West range he says:”he has no information to suggest that range conditions or habitat loss is a problem.”
So, when a winter range gets overgrazed, is that a sign of too many or too few caribou? Apparently, the Cape Bathurst caribou moved east to the Bluenose West range for better winter range, and then stayed there to calf. This is the range they’ve used for thousands of years. How can a trained biologist reach the conclusion that the herd is virtually extinct, when the separate herd never actually existed???
*A Population Estimate of the Bluenose Caribou Herd in 1981, P. Latour and D. Heard, NWT Wildlife Service, 1985
I have laid awake every night for over a month, trying to understand what is driving this. This is just my theory. There are certainly other ones out there. I have connected the dots, and this is where it leads me.
The following news article appeared on January 16, 2007 on CBC News.
“Proposed pipeline poses threat to caribou: biologists”
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 | 3:58 PM CT
Wildlife managers need to figure out how to protect declining caribou herds if the proposed Mackenzie Valley gas project goes ahead, the Joint Review Panel was told during a hearing in Inuvik Monday.
The proposed 1,200-kilometre pipeline, which would carry gas from the Beaufort Delta region to northern Alberta, would cut through the middle of the Cape Bathurst caribou herd's range. Its population has dropped from 17,500 in 1992 to 1,800 in 2006.
N.W.T. government biologist John Nagy says the latest information on the herd is not promising.
"The small number of calves in early July indicates that few yearlings will be recruited to the Cape Bathurst herd in 2007," he told the panel. "This suggests that a further decline in the Cape Bathurst [herd] can be anticipated."
Call made for plan to be sensitive
The government recommends Imperial Oil, the lead partner in the pipeline project, monitor the herds and develop a management plan.
The Gwich'in Renewable Resources Board wants the plan to be sensitive to the declining populations, said its biologist, Catherine Lambert Koizumi.
"Could one of the mitigation actions be to make sure that this population doesn't go under specific minimum, viable population size or make sure there's a recovery plan in place before the project starts?" she said.
Territorial government spokesman Ray Case said climate change is probably the cause of the drop in caribou numbers, so any plan should focus on limiting the impact caused by the pipeline project.
Scientists have been looking closely at why caribou numbers have declined in the North. Local hunters have been asked to stop hunting the Cape Bathurst herd until the numbers turn around.
The Joint Review Panel is looking at the social and environmental implications of the multibillion project.
Mining & Petroleum Projects
I have read all of the Caribou Calving Ground Surveys available on the GNWT Website from the late 1970s to the present. Nowhere in that research, that I can find, do I see any strong evidence supporting the “creation” of the Cape Bathurst Herd. To the contrary, there is a lot of scientific and aboriginal knowledge pointing to the exact opposite, that this area is only an occasional calving ground. Yet suddenly, in 2000, just when the McKenzie Valley Pipeline starts to gather steam, Voila!, a new caribou herd. At the same time, the Bathurst Herd, which travels right through the NWT’s two largest diamond mines, is also all of a sudden split into smaller herds. Scientists, when asked, have failed to produce the DNA evidence, they say, supports the creation of five herds from two. Please note that, to the east, where there is much less exploration, they have left the two large herds in tact. Is all of this a coincidence???
19 October 1998
London. “Canadian scientist Dr. Ann Gunn has reported a dramatic 95 per cent decline in the Peary caribou population, and the die-off may be the beginning of a vast Arctic wildlife decline driven by rising temperatures and precipitation. Peary caribou are a High Arctic subspecies of caribou whose range is limited to a few Arctic islands. “
Greenpeace climate impacts expert Kevin Jardine said:
“The best explanation for the Peary caribou decline is starvation because a deeper snow pack has prevented the animals from reaching their crucial winter food supply. The Peary Caribou decline is the first of a major Arctic wildlife population that appears to be related to global climate change."
“The Porcupine caribou herd, as well as being vulnerable to the changes in the Arctic climate, are also threatened by the prospect of expanding oil and gas development spreading east and north from the huge Prudhoe Bay oil complex on Alaska's North Slope. The burning of fossil fuels - oil, coal and gas - is the major factor driving climate change.”
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:- Dr. Ann Gunn, Chair of the national Recovery Team for Peary and Arctic-island caribou +1 867 873 7763.
The titanic battles between Greenpeace, a $ 158,000,000 a year environmentalist lobbying group, and Imperial/Exxon/Mobil,
the last energy company left in the arctic, are well documented by thousands of web pages and articles on both sides of the fence.
“Greenpeace shuts down Esso”
“While the world's nations talked about the Kyoto protocol and how to stop climate change at a conference in India, Greenpeace took action to stop the world's #1 climate criminal in an entire nation”
Following is a quote from the Greenpeace Website*regarding the effects of global warming and additional snowfall. Anne Gunn, biologist of the GNWT, is sited five times in the bibliography.
Almost all climate models project more precipitation in a greenhouse future, particularly in the Arctic. The Arctic is dry, receiving an average of 4 cm of annual precipitation, mostly in the form of snow. Models suggest that doubling the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would cause a 30 to 50 increase in Arctic snowfall. Snowfall and other precipitation is already increasing in the Mackenzie Valley region in northwestern Canada and in much of Alaska.
So, if we have more snowfall, as we did in the winter of 2005-2006, is it not logical to assume that, as Anne Gunn explains in 1997 “some cows may be delayed in reaching the calving ground”, and that this phenomenon, if global warming is true, will continue, thus rendering calving ground surveys even more problematic?
Global Warming means more snowfall. More snowfall means poorer aggregation of caribou on the calving grounds. Less aggregation on the calving grounds renders Calving Ground Surveys virtually useless.
Warmer climates mean earlier spring green-up, which produces better forage for lactating cows, and therefore healthier calves? Also, earlier green-up would produce shorter winter stress, and less winter kill. Ungulates all over the world die from hard winters; it is rare they die from nice spring weather.
The Insect Harassment Theory
It’s a nice theory, but anyone who has ever flown in the north country can see there is no shortage of mosquito “calving grounds.” Perhaps we should do a mosquito calving ground survey. I don’t think it makes a huge difference to a caribou whether or not he’s attacked by 10,000 mosquitoes or 12,000.
I believe Greenpeace is trying to prove the eminent demise of the caribou, due to Global Warming, in order to stop the Outfitting Industry, Exxon’s Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, and probably the Diamond Mines, both current and future, as well.
3. With the outfitting industry out of the way, environmentalists can point to the demise of the caribou, and who’s going to argue with them? If the oil companies or mines say the caribou are doing just fine, it appears self serving. If 1000 hunters come north every year, and say they saw 10,000 caribou a day, how does that fit into the “Crashing Caribou Theory”?
The end of the outfitting industry is the perfect legal precedent to justify shutting down the pipeline project and other industrialization, based on caribou herds dwindling or on the edge of extinction, all due to global warming. It also furthers the anti-hunting agenda of Greenpeace’s allies, the Defenders of Wildlife.
This is exactly the same tactic being used further north in Nunavut to shut down Polar Bear hunting and oil exploration. Global Warming, causing the Polar Bear population to plunge to “near extinction”, so they have to shut down hunting, and any oil exploration. What the “scientists” manipulating the truth conveniently forget to tell everyone is that the Polar Bear population has gone from 5,000 in the 1950s to 25,000 in 2006.
This is not the happiest of conclusions to draw but I have tried to connect all the dots: How else can one explain the following:
This is all just a theory, trying to figure out what is happening. Opposing theories are most welcome. The sooner we know what is happening, the sooner we can fix it.
Aboriginal knowledge tells us there is one great herd of caribou that wanders across the barren lands, moving with the seasons. The aboriginals have depended on the caribou for food for thousands of years. The aboriginals had to get it right, or they starved. Feast or famine. Scientists get their food at the Co-op. If they don’t it right, so what?
Aboriginal knowledge also tells us that some years, the caribou just didn’t come. They couldn’t find them. Its not that the caribou were extinct, its just that they’re not where they thought they would be.
Ann Gunn, RWED biologist said this in 2001:
“Always considered strictly Beverly caribou range here, Gunn said there was concern that animals from the Bathurst, Qamanirjuaq and Ahiak herds were crowding onto the Beverly range, competing for a food supply that had been made scarcer with numerous forest fires in past years.”*
And so the herds are shifting, moving as they have for thousands of years, seeking better forage, escaping insects, evading predators, and moving in ways only a caribou can understand.
* BQCMB Website, “Caribou News in Brief”, Vol. 5, No. 1 August 2001
What one has trouble understanding is why the ENR assumes that, when caribou are not in a certain place, (for instance the Cape Bathurst calving ground), it assumes they are dead? Do they have evidence of a caribou disease wiping them out, with caribou carcasses littering the tundra? Are there sick caribou wandering into the villages? Are Air Tindi pilots, or First Nation wolf hunters reporting huge die-offs? Perhaps ENR’s biologist John Nagy’s theory, that increased foot rot from walking on the mining roads is the answer. If recruitment is their answer, then predation is the problem. But they don’t want to go there, because hunting wolves is a no-no with Defenders of Wildlife. If the ENR has the answer to these questions, and the other questions raised in this presentation, then the outfitters, and the public, would be happy to sit down and discuss the entire matter. Up this point in time, it has not wanted to do that. And that’s too bad, because that is how I thought consensus government was supposed to work.
The numbers you see here are just the tip of the iceberg. In the upcoming weeks, we will keep the public informed, as we move forward on the political front, and, for some of us, the legal front as well. This is not just a fight about 1656 caribou tags being cut to 220, it’s a fight about right and wrong, and good government, and will the people seek the truth. It about small businesses trying to stand up against the government.
I welcome the public’s comments and inputs, both pro and con. This presentation is a work in progress. In the coming weeks I will lay out Win-Win situations for all parties concerned: the Caribou, the Outfitters, the Resident Hunters, the Aboriginal Groups, and Sportsmen around the world. The government is trying to tear down an industry, we will work towards the goal of building it back up, improving it, and carrying on into the future.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org