Dall’s Sheep, Grizzly Bears and Wolves interactions in the Gwich’in Settlement Area: Traditional Knowledge and Climate Monitoring
Principal Investigator: Lambert Koizumi, Catherine (4)
Licence Number: 14110
Organization: Gwich'in Renewable Resource Board
Licenced Year(s): 2010 2008 2006
Issued: Feb 09, 2007
Project Team: Dr. Andrew Derocher (Academic / Research Supervision, University of Alberta), Dr. Jari Heikkila (Scientific Advices / Collaboration, Gwich'in Renewable Resource Board), Bobbie-Jo Greenland (TK Manager, Gwich'in Renewable Resource Board), Ehdiitat, Tetlit, Gwichya and Nihtat Renewable Resource Councils (Collaboration in Study Design / Sample Collection, Gwich'in Renewable Resource Councils)

Objective(s): The proposed project aims to: 1) update and expand important baseline information on Dall's sheep, grizzly bears, and wolves, which will contribute to the revision of grizzly and Dall's sheep management plan; 2) understand the interactions between those species; 3) evaluate the effect of habitat features and climate on those interactions; and 4) document traditional knowledge about Dall's sheep, grizzly bears and wolves in the Richardson Mountains.

Project Description: The proposed project aims to: 1) update and expand important baseline information on Dall’s sheep, grizzly bears, and wolves, which will contribute to the revision of grizzly and Dall's sheep management plan; 2) understand the interactions between those species; 3) evaluate the effect of habitat features and climate on those interactions; and 4) document traditional knowledge about Dall's sheep, grizzly bears and wolves in the Richardson Mountains.

To conduct the project, the research team will use a multi-disciplinary approach involving: 1) the simultaneous GPS tracking of individuals from the three species; 2) fatty acid signatures and stable isotopes analyses (which will be performed in 2007-2008); 3) field investigation of predation and behavioural observations (2007-2008); 4) habitat mapping using remote sensing and ground truthing; and 5) documentation of Gwich’in Traditional Knowledge through individual interviews and workshops (start in fall 2006).

The capture, radio-marking of the individuals, and tissue sampling for body analysis, were already performed last spring and the protocol was approved by the NWT Wildlife Care Committee, the Ehdiitat, Tetlit, Gwichya, and Nihtat Renewable Resource Councils (permit NWTWCC 006-005) and the NWT DENR.

The climate monitoring work will entail the hiring of two Gwich'in monitors from Aklavik and Fort McPherson (one per community) to conduct snow surveys along a snowmobile route in the northern Richardson Mountains. Every two weeks, they will visit the same stations (approximately 30 in total), and measure the snow depth and density at various elevations and in different habitat types. The stations' location will be GPS-marked and the snow monitors will perform the measurements with a scaled stick and will weigh the water content with a balance. A weather station will also be installed on top of the Mount Goodenough, close to already existing forestry equipment, and will be visited twice a year to change the batteries and download the data. The station (HOBO) will record temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, and barometric pressure.


The TK section of the project will entail a review of existing documentation on Dall's sheep, grizzly bears and wolves in the Gwich'in Settlement Area (from GRRB and GSCI database). The findings will be discussed with the Renewable Resource Councils of Aklavik, Fort McPherson, Tsiigehtchic and Inuvik, and through discussions with these bodies, areas that need further investigation will be identified. After the completion of the interview questions, the research team will request names of knowledgeable Gwich'in elders and other community members who would be suitable and willing to be interviewed. Once obtaining the consent of such individuals, the research team will proceed with interviewing and recording the interviews. Translation services will be offered. The information recorded in the interviews will then be summarized and workshops will be organized in each community to present the results and provide the opportunity for other community members to add more information.

Annual reports will be produced for the general public as well as for funding agencies. Moreover, the project’s results will be frequently brought to the attention of the communities by attending Renewable Resource Councils meetings, and annual posters will be delivered to them. This project will also have its own page on the Gwich’in Renewable Resource Board website, where reports and updates will be available publicly.

The study will be conducted from February 9 to December 31, 2007 in the northern Richardson Mountains (67º 30' - 68º 30' N, 135º 30' - 137º W), at the northwest part of the Gwich’in Settlement Area. The study area will be centred on the Black Mountain Block (Mount Goodenough), located approximately 20 km SW of Aklavik, and 40 km NW of Fort McPherson. TK workshops and consultations related to the species management will occur in the Gwich'in Settlement Area communities of Fort McPherson, Tsiigehtchic, Inuvik and Aklavik.