Is the barren-ground caribou herd in the Northwest Territories crashing? About to crash? In no danger of crashing? Frankly, we don’t have a definitive answer to those questions, but the very fact that they are being asked should be of concern to hunters thinking about heading up that way next fall.
Continuing subscribers will remember we raised these same concerns in December of 2006 (Article ID: 1776) and again in February 2007 (Article ID: 1792), when hunting permit allocations there were slashed by the wildlife department and ignited a huge fight involving wildlife managers, outfitters and local aboriginals. We warned hunters then that caribou migrations were reportedly spotty. Some camps had to move clients. Hunting reports from subscribers were poor concerning the quantity of game they saw.
What brought our attention back to this issue was a recent notice from outfitter Rabesca’s Resources Ltd. of Behchoko, NWT, which has announced the closure of its Camp Ekwo Caribou Outfitting business starting in 2010. The release says in part:
“With the results of this summer’s photographic survey of the Bathurst caribou herd calving grounds now published, the directors of Rabesca’s Resources Ltd. have decided to close their sports hunting outfitting operation until further notice.
“It is not just the results from this year’s Government of NWT Environment and Natural Resources survey that have influenced Rabesca’s decision. They have been observing caribou on the barren ground over the past 20 years during the fall migration. They have observed a continual decline over the past six years in the number of caribou migrating through their hunting camps on Humpy Lake and Little Forehead Lake.....