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NTI Disappointed in Peary Caribou Decision

NR 07-10 PEA ENG Peary Caribou Designation.doc

(June 20, 2007 – Pangnirtung, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. 2nd Vice-President Raymond Ningeocheak today expressed disappointment in federal Environment Minister John Baird’s decision to recommend to federal cabinet that it designate Peary caribou as endangered under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Minister Baird’s decision rejects the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board’s (NWMB) final decision that the Peary caribou population on Queen Elizabeth Islands be designated as a species of special concern, and that the Boothia Peninsula population not be listed at this time. The minister’s decision is that all Peary caribou be treated as endangered.

I am very disappointed in Minister Baird’s decision to recommend to cabinet that Peary caribou be listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act, said Ningeocheak. Minister Baird’s decision sends the message to Inuit in Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay that their knowledge, experience and hard work is neither recognized nor appreciated.

Under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA), the NWMB was established as the main instrument of wildlife management in Nunavut. Prior to making their recommendation, the NWMB consulted with Inuit and scientists and considered Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and the most recent scientific information on Peary caribou. Hunters and Trappers Organizations (HTOs) in Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay have successfully monitored and managed the herds in the High Arctic for more than 20 years.

Though fluctuations in population and changes in distribution of this species have occurred due to climatic and environmental factors, harvesting is being carefully managed by the HTOs. As a result, the Queen Elizabeth and Boothia populations have decreased and recovered over the last two decades. Further, in 1994, the Resolute Bay HTO received international recognition for its Peary caribou management from the Wildlife Society, an organization of biologists and wildlife management experts dedicated to wildlife stewardship.

Inuit and the NWMB recommended that Queen Elizabeth Islands Peary caribou should be listed as a species of special concern. The decision was responsible and knowledgeable, and allowed Inuit to continue to manage the population through their HTOs, said Ningeocheak

A SARA endangered species listing will significantly reduce local control, and effective on-the-ground management by requiring federally adopted strategies and plans.

It is important to note that under the NLCA, the minister’s decision cannot result in any harvesting restrictions on Inuit, which require NWMB decisions. It is expected that the minister’s recommendation will go to cabinet in 2008.

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