French-language weekly of the Greater Canadian North

Caribou Peary is the smallest caribou in North America. Its population is constantly declining and its status is protected in Canada. (Photo: J. Nagy – GTNO)

On Thursday, May 12, the Northwest Territories Risk Committee released three reports. Their verdict is unanimous, the effects of climate change are felt at the level of general caribou populations and call for special attention.

The Northwest Territories Risk Committee has published its latest reports monitoring the conservation status of NWTs. For 2022, the members of the committee were interested in Pari caribou, boreal caribou and peregrine falcon.

Each year, two or three species pay special attention to this committee, which is administratively dependent on the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. Status reports are usually scheduled every ten years. The Committee’s latest recommendations for Peary Caribou and Boreal Caribou date back to 2012. Estimation of peregrine falcon is the first for this species in NWT.

Next year it will be the turn of dolphins and allied caribou and the American white pelican, and in 2024 the committee is only interested in muskrats and hairy breeds, species of the mustard family that are found in the north-northwest and are considered endangered. Endangered Wildlife Committee in Canada.

Indigenous knowledge in value

In preparing the reports published on May 10, the Risk Committee emphasizes the work done to share the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and the results of Western academic research. Work on the inclusion of local knowledge, which is not new, but not obvious.

As Canadian environmental and climate change researcher Micheline Manso noted last year, “People on the ground have quality knowledge in this area. They can relate the history of this environment to the information obtained from the study. They have the questions that the results of the analysis have to answer. »

“The use of these two sets of knowledge allows for a more holistic approach to assessing the conservation status of species,” the NWT Risk Committee wrote.

Different knowledge related to people and natural spaces allows us to offer a long-term vision based on ecosystems, the committee said. A particularly useful method is to assess the impact of very complex processes, such as climate change, on species.

“By combining a local approach, field information from people living in the region, with the results of scientific research and measurements, we can have a clearer and more accurate vision of the threats posed by the species,” he explains. committee, and what can be created to limit them. »

The climate is tense for the northwestern Caribbean

Because the biggest threat to wildlife in the North is climate change. By changing the conditions of temperature, humidity or frequency of meteorological extremes, ecosystems as a whole are transformed.

To survive, many species must move or adapt. Often even a combination of both is needed. As the committee explains, “climate threats, including more frequent and intense forest fires, extreme weather and unreliable sea ice conditions, require a cautious approach to assessing them.”

Lynn Andrew, chairman of the committee, explains, in particular, that “we do not know exactly what will happen and how it will affect the caribou population. Residents are already very worried about the future of the living beings of our region. Natural cycles change.

The caribou population declined sharply between the 1960s and 1990s, falling from about 36,000 to 7,800. The boreal caribou population is more stable, although declining in some places is a cause for concern. Both species were again classified by the committee as “endangered”, as in 2012.

Stable situation for peregrine falcon

As for the peregrine falcon, which is included in the register of species assessed by the commission, the finding is less negative and the species is considered “not endangered”.

The peregrine falcon population in the north-western territories appears stable, and threats to its stability, such as the presence of pesticides or declining victim populations, do not have a significant impact on the general population.

However, the Committee recommends that continuous monitoring of species be maintained, in particular by “prioritizing the knowledge of indigenous peoples and communities about their attitudes towards victims, their habitats and their ecosystem” in order to ensure the stability of the species.

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