Sahtú Region Caribou and Moose Study
Principal Investigator: Simmons, Deborah L (22)
Licence Number: 15217
Organization: Sahtú Renewable Resources Board
Licenced Year(s): 2016 2015 2014 2013
Issued: Mar 19, 2013
Project Team: Jean Polfus (PhD Student Researcher, Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba), Dr. Susan Kutz (Co-Investigator, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary), Dr. Micheline Manseau (Co-Investigator, Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba and Parks Canada), Richard Popko (Co-Investigator, Sahtú Region NWT Environment and Natural Resources), Roger Boniface (Co-Investigator, Fort Good Hope Renewable Resources Council), David Menacho (Co-Investigator, Tulit’a Renewable Resources Council), Rhea McDonald (Co-Investigator, Norman Wells Renewable Resources Council), Darwin Baton (Co-Investigator, Déline Renewable Resources Council)

Objective(s): To monitor caribou and moose health and understand population dynamics and range boundaries using non-invasive sampling methods as a basis for management and environmental impact assessments.

Project Description: The main objective of this project is to support the wildlife management initiatives proposed by the Renewable Resource Councils (RRCs) in the Sahtú Region through the development of a robust research program that incorporates multiple sources of knowledge into a detailed understanding of caribou and moose populations. The objectives are to monitor caribou and moose health and understand population dynamics and range boundaries using non-invasive sampling methods as a basis for management and environmental impact assessments.

This project will adopt an interdisciplinary socio-ecological approach that will allow for the development of questions and concepts based on the goals, values, and priorities of communities. Specifically, the Sahtú Renewable Resources Board (SRRB) is developing partnerships with local Renewable Resource Councils (RRC) in Fort Good Hope, Norman Wells, Tulit’a, and Déline as well as the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Manitoba. Sample collection will include animal tissue samples for health monitoring and scat collection for genetic analysis. For the health monitoring, the sample kit includes data provided by the harvesters on back fat, age, sex, pregnancy, hunter assessment of body condition, as well as samples of the jaw, hide piece, liver piece, left kidney, scat, metatarsal with fur and hoof, and blood on filter paper. For the genetic analysis, samples include a pile of scat found frozen on the snow and the location of collection.

Another important component of the program is working with hunters to understand traditional knowledge of caribou and moose populations in the Sahtú. This knowledge will guide an informed description of caribou and moose populations and will help with the interpretation of the health monitoring and genetic results.

This project is a partnership with the Renewable Resources Councils (RRCs) in Fort Good Hope, Tulit'a, Déline, and Norman Wells. Through collaboration the research team will develop research questions, identify shared objectives, and work with harvesters to collect samples and document traditional knowledge. Youth at the schools and colleges will be involved as much as possible. There will be opportunities for cross-cultural exchanges between scientists, traditional knowledge holders and youth. Renewable Resources Councils will receive a sample processing fee and administrative fee. Harvesters will receive rewards of oil and gas for contributing samples.

An important priority of this project is to ensure that information collected is accessible. Meetings at the end of the field season will allow all team members and collaborators to re-access methods, debrief field work, and present and discuss any results. Project results will be shared on a project website, Facebook page, community radio, public presentations, technical and plain language reports, academic publications (peer-reviewed journal articles), conference presentations, and other feedback requested by participants. All interested individuals and groups will be given written copies of summaries of results, and publications (plain language and technical) including the resulting PhD dissertation .

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from March 13, 2013 to December 31, 2013.