The Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board (BQCMB) recently wrapped up some meetings in Prince Albert.

The board met for three days and discussed a number of issues concerning the two caribou herds. Earl Evans the board’s current chair told MBC Radio News the two herds are currently experiencing what he called slow decline in their overall population numbers.

“The Qamanirjuaq seems to be fairly healthy, its in a slow decline and I think they’re a little over 200,000 in the last estimate and the Beverly herd’s about 103,000, that was about three years ago, but we’re doing a survey this year, they’re in a slow decline too,” he said.

Evans explained the decline in population numbers is not something which is completely unexpected as the two herds population’s tend to have cycles where they go down. He added looking at the populations of both herds closer shows there is a good ratio in regards to cows versus calves, which provides reason for overall optimism. Evans said the two herds are not in a unique situation as most other caribou herds are dealing with declining population numbers.

“Eight out of nine herds are in decline, except the porcupine herd and that herd it lives in the Yukon, Alaska and it comes into the territories up by Inuvik side and they’re really hard to get at, they’re inaccessible for most part of the year because they’re in the rugged mountain terrain and then their on the coastal plain on Alaska side, so they’re very hard to get at and I think that’s why the numbers are staying fairly strong,” he said.

Another issue which the management board has been hearing about from people who hunt caribou for food is that due to the animals going farther north people looking to hunt are now being forced to travel quite long distances in order to get to them. Evans said recently family members of his in Alberta traveled 26 hours by snowmobile so they could harvest caribou. He explained people living in Fond-du-Lac and Black Lake are not able to get to the animals in the way they used to as well.

“They still have to travel long distances to get caribou they’re not easy to get like before they were right close to town, but now accessing caribou is a major problem for a lot of people,” said Evans.

Going forward Evans said the board is focused on working to preserve the habitat and calving grounds of the caribou. He said the board has heard concerns from people about some planned developments in the areas which are important for the herd. Overall Evans said the board is not opposed to development, but wants it done in a way that takes the importance of caribou herds into consideration.

“We’re trying to find that balance, where we have industry, we have jobs for people and the people can live that balanced life style, some people work part time at the mines and the money they make from there can afford to take them out hunting,” he said.

(Top Photo: The BQCMB board at their recent meeting in Prince Albert. Photo Courtesy of BQCMB Facebook page.)