Sahtú Region Caribou and Moose Study

Regions: Sahtu Settlement Area

Tags: biology, caribou, traditional knowledge, wildlife, moose

Principal Investigator: Simmons, Deborah L (22)
Licence Number: 15443
Organization: Sahtú Renewable Resources Board
Licenced Year(s): 2016 2015 2014 2013
Issued: Apr 02, 2014

Objective(s): To monitor caribou and moose health and understand population dynamics and range boundaries through interviews with hunters to understand traditional knowledge of caribou and moose populations.

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 is developing partnerships with local RRC‘s in Fort Good Hope, Norman Wells, Tulit’a, and Déline as well as the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Manitoba (caribou genetics), the Sahtú Environment and Natural Resources office, the University of Calgary (caribou and moose health monitoring), and others to support the work. 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 RRCs in Fort Good Hope, Tulit'a, Déline, and Norman Wells. Through collaboration we 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.

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 14, 2014 to December 31, 2014.