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Five important northern wildlife stories to watch

  • Mar 14, 2017
  • 655 words
  • 3 minutes
Leaf River caribou on the move in Nunavik, Fall 2012 Expand Image

The March/April issue of Canadian Geographic magazine is themed around the North — who lives there, how it’s changing, and why it matters. Here, learn more about the five stories featured on the Discovery: Wildlife page. 

Quebec will close the sports hunt for Leaf River caribou — next year

Although the Quebec government has promised to close the sports hunt of the Leaf River caribou for an “indefinite period” starting in February 2018 in a bid to replenish the herd, Nunavik Inuit are concerned that’s not soon enough to stop the precipitous decline of the herd’s numbers. A 2016 survey estimated there were 199,000 animals in the herd, down from 430,000 five years earlier. Luc Blanchette, Quebec minister of forests, wildlife and parks, called those numbers “worrying” and acknowledged the province’s responsibility to sustainably manage the migratory herd, the Nunatsiaq News reported in January. But Adamie Delisle Alaku, vice president of resource development for Makivik Corp. and a member of the committee that oversees harvesting rights under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, told the publication it took three years for the province to stop the hunt on another vulnerable herd, in spite of repeated calls for a close. “We do not want history repeating itself,” Delisle Alaku told the News.

Oil-eating microbes in the Arctic? 

As the Arctic warms, shipping traffic through the region will inevitably increase, bringing with it the prospect of a major oil spill at some point in the future. Researchers at the University of Manitoba are hoping to get ahead of the problem by looking at how the polar marine environment could be impacted by — and recover from — a spill at the microbial level. The provincial and federal governments chipped in a total of $4 million to support the research, which will look at whether naturally-occuring microbes in the water and sea ice could play in a role in breaking down oil contamination. “We want to make sure we are prepared and have the policies in place so that we can actually deal with oil spills,” head researcher Gary Stern told the CBC. 

Turbot quotas increased for Nunavut fishery

Watch for turbot to make an appearance on more restaurant menus and supermarket counters over the coming months: in January, Fisheries and Oceans Canada increased the allowable catch of the flatfish species for this year and next by 575 tonnes in each of the two fishing areas adjacent to Baffin Island. That’s good news for the Nunavut fishery, which expects revenues to increase by up to $8 million as a result of the decision. 

Hinterland Who’s Who goes multilingual

Perhaps taking a cue from Historica Canada, which last fall released its first-ever Heritage Minute in English, French and Inuktitut, the Canadian Wildlife Federation has released a pair of its popular Hinterland Who’s Who vignettes translated into six different Indigenous languages. Canadians can now learn about the wolverine and the freshwater turtle in Denesuline, Woods Cree, Inuktitut, Mohawk, Oji-Cree and Ojibwe. “Our goal is to highlight our most iconic species but also highlight the importance of Indigenous culture in Canada,” project coordinator Annie Langlois told the CBC in January. Watch all the videos on the CWF’s website.

Baffinland abandons winter sealift proposal

Baffinland Iron Mines has abandoned a proposal to have extra trucks and trailers sealifted by icebreaker through Eclipse Sound this month, citing concerns over the impact on wildlife and community transportation routes. The company proposed the sealift earlier this year, saying it was necessary in order for them to meet their spring shipping targets. But at a series of meetings in Pond Inlet, residents expressed concern about how the icebreaking operations would impact seal pups, which are born in dens on the sea ice starting in March, and Baffinland withdrew the proposal. 


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