Francois Lake wildlife and wildland fire regional gathering

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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) recently held a regional gathering at the Francois Lake fire base located 110 km east of Yellowknife.

This gathering provided North Slave Indigenous groups and governments as well as co-management partners information and an opportunity to discuss a variety of wildlife species and wildland fire management. Elders, leaders, and youth of the Tłı̨chǫ, Akaitcho and North Slave Métis Alliance participated and provided feedback on a number of topics. ENR was represented by Deputy Minister Dr. Joe Dragon and Assistant Deputy Minister, Ms. Rita Mueller, as well as staff from the department’s Wildlife and Forest Management divisions.

North Slave wildlife species of interest discussed included barren-ground and boreal caribou, muskox, moose and wolves. Information presented showed increasing and expanding moose and muskox populations in the North Slave Region based on the most recent surveys by ENR’s regional biologists.

Participants expressed concerns about the current status of the barren-ground caribou herds and the need to work together through co-management between the territorial government and Indigenous groups to better monitor and manage this important species.

Participants discussed the current wolf harvesting incentive program as part of the Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur Program (GMVFP) to help with the recovery of caribou herds. They also provided ENR with suggestions to make the program more effective and attractive to hunters and trappers.

Wildland fire information presentations included a review of the wildland fires experienced in Western and Northern Canada in recent years and the potential correlation to a changing climate. Discussion also covered topics related to FireSmart. Participants shared their concerns about the impact of forest fires on important wintering caribou habitat and expressed the desire to see more fire suppression activity when possible on key caribou migration and staging corridors.

Overall, the gathering provided important input from partners and received positive reviews from all who attended.

Deputy Minister Dragon thanks all those who attended for their attention and meaningful participation. Moving forward, ENR’s objective is to regularly hold more of these important special gatherings on the land in order to continue healthy and constructive information exchange between co-management partners.