Cumulative Impacts on the Bathurst Caribou Herd: a Tłı̨chǫ Traditional Knowledge Study
This study was a collaborative project with the harvesters and elders from Dechì Laotì (People of the treeline) in Wekweètì. The purpose of the study was to improve our understanding of the cumulative impacts on the Bathurst Caribou herd, by identifying factors of disturbance and their consequences for the caribou migration, population dynamics and health.
The study identified the main factors of disturbance to barren-ground caribou as: 1) mining and development, 2) disrespectful behavior, and 3) outfitters camps. The cumulative impacts of these disturbance factors have been identified as changes to caribou migration routes and abnormal occurrences in caribou physiology and health. One of the main caribou migration routes across ɂek’atì (Lac de Gras) tataà towards Beɂaitì (Winter Lake) and Wekweetì has become divided due to establishment of mines near ɂek’atì (Lac de Gras). Numerous unusual occurrences in the physiology and health of the caribou have been reported since the establishment of the mines. Also, the study documented harvesters’ observations of caribou decline and discovery of dead caribou on the barrenlands.
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