Status and Trends
Between 1978 and 1994, cows showed fidelity to the calving grounds which showed no consistent pattern of annual shifting (Gunn et al. 2007). There is little information on summer and winter ranges since the early 1990s, although the few caribou found on the calving ground each June from 2007 to 2009 suggests that all seasonal ranges likely contracted.
DOWNLOAD Beverly animation (1.95 Mb) - Shows movements of 17 satellite collared adult females between 2006 and 2007. Animation should play automatically in QuickTime Player
Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board's (BQCMB) Backgrounder: Download PDF (44kb)
BQCMB July 6, 2009 press release: Recipe for Recovery: Download PDF (47kb)
The Government of the Northwest Territories has conducted population surveys of the Beverly herd since the 1970s. Results of the last population survey in 1994 indicated that the Beverly herd had increased since the 1980s. During the 1980s, calf survival was also high.
Little current information exists for the herd as its trend in abundance or vital rates were unmonitored between 1994 and 2002. Calf survival was not measured subsequent to 1993. Comparison of results from systematic strip transect surveys of the Beverly calving ground flown in 1994, 2002, 2007, 2008, and 2009 showed a drastic drop in numbers of caribou on transect over the years, from more than 5,700 in 1994 to fewer than 100 in 2009. Flights across the entire traditional calving ground (area used for calving since the 1950s) and extensive adjacent areas in all directions were conducted in 2007, 2008, and 2009 to ensure that no significant numbers of Beverly caribou had been missed. Although a current population estimate is not available, it is clear that the herd has undergone a drastic decline. The lack of data collected on the Beverly herd since the mid 1990's may preclude conclusively determining the cause of the observed changes.
The Beverly caribou herd ranges primarily across portions of northern Saskatchewan, eastern Northwest Territories (NWT), and western Nunavut, and occasionally some animals enter north-western Manitoba. Responsibility for the herd's conservation and management is shared by these two territorial and two provincial governments, as well as the federal government. The agencies responsible are: NWT Environment and Natural Resources, Nunavut Department of Environment, Saskatchewan Environment, Manitoba Conservation and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
The was established in 1982 following agreement by aboriginal organizations and governments to work together to achieve common goals for conservation and management of two caribou herds, the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq herds. A single co-management board dealing with two herds was created because seasonal ranges of the herds overlapped, management authority was held by the same government agencies, and conservation and management involved many issues common to both herds.
The BQCMB is an advisory board that makes recommendations to governments and communities regarding conservation and management of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou herds. Governments hold responsibility for management of the herds.
The Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Barren Ground Caribou Management Agreement between the governments of Canada, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut was approved in April 2002, establishing the Board's third mandate to March 2012. Up to 15 members can be appointed to the Board, including one representative from each of the five government parties, and two or three community representatives from each of four regions: southern Kivalliq (Keewatin) region of Nunavut, Dene and Metis communities in the NWT, northern Saskatchewan and northern Manitoba.
The BQCMB published the first management plan for the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou herds in 1987, and has since reviewed and revised the plan twice. The current Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Plan 2005-2012 was developed cooperatively by Board members to outline the ways the Board will work co-operatively with governments, communities and other organizations to safeguard the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou herds. The BQCMB's website (http://www.arctic-caribou.com/publications_reports.html) provides current and past management plans and agreements, recent BQCMB annual reports, and many other reports, maps, and submissions to government and regulatory agencies.
The was established in 1994 under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement negotiated by the Inuit of Nunavut and the Government of Canada. It is responsible for the well-being of animals and plants in Nunavut, including caribou. The mandate of the NWMB is: "to help ensure the protection and wise use of wildlife and wildlife habitat for the long-term benefit of Inuit and the rest of the public of Nunavut and Canada".
The NWMB is the main instrument of wildlife management and the main regulator of access to wildlife in the Nunavut Settlement Area (NSA). The NWMB also identifies research requirements, funds research and carries out research in order to help maintain an effective system of wildlife management in the NSA.
The NWMB is a wildlife co-management board that is jointly governed by four representatives of Inuit organizations, four representatives of the governments of Nunavut and Canada (who may also be Inuit), and an independent chairperson. The Board is a decision-making body; however, final responsibility for wildlife management rests with the governments of Nunavut and Canada, which carry out NWMB decisions. NWMB annual reports and other publications are available from the NWMB's website at: http://www.nwmb.com/english/resources/publications.php.
NWT Caribou Management Strategy:
The Government of the Northwest Territories has developed a five year strategy to guide management actions for barren-ground caribou: Caribou Forever - Our Heritage, Our Responsibility. A Barren-ground Caribou Management Strategy for the Northwest Territories 2006 - 2010, which is available on-line at: http://www.enr.gov.nt.ca/_live/pages/wpPages/Barren_ground_Caribou_Management_Strategy.aspx&;nbsp
The Beverly caribou range spans portions of two territories and two provinces. Therefore there are four sets of regulations that apply to the herd.
1) Selected regulations relevant to Beverly caribou, from the Northwest Territories Summary of Hunting Regulations 2008-2009 (http://www.enr.gov.nt.ca/_live/pages/wpPages/hunting_regulations.aspx), which apply to hunters who require a resident, non-resident or non-resident alien hunting licence to hunt, not to Aboriginal hunters:
- Resident, non-resident or non-resident alien hunters are limited to harvesting male barren-ground caribou, and proof of sex (testicles or scrotum) is required.
- Resident, non-resident or non-resident alien hunters are limited to a maximum of two caribou.
- Wildlife tags for caribou must be purchased in advance and attached to the carcass immediately after the kill. Trophy fees must be paid before export from the NWT by non-resident or non-resident alien hunters.
- It is an offence to waste, destroy, or abandon the meat or hide of caribou, or to allow it to spoil, or to feed it to domestic animals. The following are not considered waste: head, legs below the knee joint, internal organs, bones when stripped of meat, and shot damaged parts of the carcass.
- Helicopters cannot be used for any purpose connected with hunting in two barren-ground caribou management areas in the southeastern NWT, which includes NWT Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou range.
- Hunting is prohibited in the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary.
2) Selected regulations relevant to Beverly caribou from the 2008 Saskatchewan Hunter's and Trapper's Guide (http://www.environment.gov.sk.ca/programs-services):
- Only Saskatchewan hunters who are residents of northern Saskatchewan (Wildlife Management Zone 76) are allowed to harvest one barren-ground caribou either sex per licence. Saskatchewan First and Second Barren-ground Caribou Licences are available from Ministry of Environment offices in Zone 76.
- A Wildlife Habitat Certificate must be purchased to validate a big game licence.
- It is a violation to:
- use aircraft for any purpose connected with searching for, hunting or killing caribou.
- aid or assist people who are exercising their Aboriginal hunting rights unless you possess Aboriginal rights or carry a permit to assist.
- waste, destroy, spoil or abandon the edible flesh of caribou.
3) Selected regulations relevant to Beverly caribou from the Summary of the Nunavut Hunting Regulations 2005/2006, which apply to hunters that require a hunting licence to hunt, not to Aboriginal hunters:
- Resident hunters are limited to a maximum of five caribou.
- Non-resident and non-resident foreigner (alien) hunters can harvest any number of male caribou in accordance with the number of tags held.
- Wildlife tags for caribou must be purchased in advance and attached to the carcass immediately after the kill. Trophy fees must be paid before export from Nunavut by non-resident or non-resident foreigner (alien) hunters.
- It is an offence to waste, destroy, or abandon the meat or hide of caribou, or to allow it to spoil, or to feed it to domestic animals. The following are not considered waste: head, legs below the knee joint, internal organs, bones when stripped of meat, any parts damaged by harvesting, any parts of a diseased animal when reported to a Conservation Officer.
- Aircraft cannot be used to assist in harvesting. Fixed wing aircraft may be used for transportation, but hunters must wait 12 hours before beginning to hunt. Helicopters may not be used for transporting people, goods or wildlife for harvesting purposes.
- Hunting is prohibited in the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary.
4) Selected regulations relevant to Beverly caribou from the Manitoba 2008 Hunting Guide (http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/widlife/index.html):
- Status Indian hunters: do not require licences; are not restricted to specific seasons; are not restricted to bag limits; and are not subject to equipment restrictions such as the use of off-road vehicles.
- Status Indians generally have right to access to hunt for food within certain specified provincial and federal lands and private land with the permission of the landowner or occupant.
- Restrictions that are intended for conservation and safety purposes apply to both status Indians and licensed hunters.
- Status Indians may not waste or abandon wildlife.
- Non-Indian people may accompany Indian people that are hunting, but may not help them to exercise their hunting rights.
The is a 52,000 km2 protected area along the Northwest Territories-Nunavut border. Although protection of the musk ox population was the main reason for creation of the Sanctuary in 1927, it protects one of the richest areas for mammalian wildlife on the tundra, including an important part of the Beverly caribou range. The Sanctuary protects about half of the herd's traditional calving ground (area known to be used for calving since the 1950s), but Beverly caribou have used significant areas outside the Sanctuary for calving in most years. The Sanctuary also provides protection for portions of the herd's spring migration, post-calving, and summer ranges.
Wildlife harvesting is prohibited within the Sanctuary through the Territorial Wildlife Acts. Aboriginal harvesting rights, which are set out for Inuit in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and for Dene in Aboriginal and treaty rights, prevail over any conflicting legislation, although in the past the Thelon's sanctuary status resulted in the loss of good hunting and trapping grounds for Dene, Metis and Inuit. Sport hunting is not allowed in the Sanctuary.
Mining exploration and development have been prohibited in the Thelon since 1930, and no surface or subsurface interests can be established in this area, as the land is withdrawn from disposition under the federal Territorial Lands Act. However, pressure from mining interests has increased over time, with uranium exploration underway in recent years to the southwest and northeast of the Sanctuary and right up to these borders.
The Thelon Game Sanctuary Management Plan "is a long-range plan intended to define the values to be protected in the Sanctuary and to provide the foundation upon which the structures and processes needed to protect these values can be established." (p. 2) The Plan recommends establishing two Special Management Areas adjacent to the Sanctuary to protect areas critical for maintaining its character and resource values:
- a large area to the southwest (originally included in the Sanctuary) which provides valuable wildlife habitat and covers much of the extremely important headwaters of the Thelon River drainage; and
- a large area to the northeast which includes critical areas of the Beverly caribou calving ground and important caribou crossing areas along the Thelon River.
Both of these areas would protect additional important habitat for Beverly caribou. However, it took many years to gain approval of the plan by all parties, and the Management Authority and funding required to implement the Plan have are not yet in place.
In anticipation of increasing mineral development pressures, the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board recommended in a position paper to governments in 2004 (BQCMB 2004) that legislated protected areas be established to protect the Beverly calving and post-calving areas. No action has yet been taken by the Government of Nunavut or the federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs to initiate protection of these important habitats.
Upper portions of the Thelon River were designated as a in 1990 because of the area's natural and cultural integrity and recreational values. The northern reaches of the river cross through the herd's traditional calving ground, and many important crossings are used by caribou year after year within the Thelon Wildlife Management Sanctuary and downstream of the Sanctuary all the way to Baker Lake. Many of these were documented by the Government of the Northwest Territories in the early 1980s (Williams and Gunn 1982).
Roads, mineral exploration, and mines are land use activities that currently pose the greatest threat to Beverly caribou and their habitat. The potential cumulative effects (effects that may accumulate over time) of exploration and development activities on Beverly caribou are of particular concern. Roads are a major threat to Beverly caribou, because they can increase human access, act as barriers to caribou movements, and reduce habitat availability. Roads that provide new access to caribou for unregulated hunters from southern Canada, such as the new Athabasca Road from Points North to Black Lake Saskatchewan, are the greatest concern. These roads create the potential for significantly increased harvest levels, as restrictions on use of roads for harvesting are very difficult to establish and enforce.
Mineral exploration and mines are the most frequent major developments on Beverly caribou range, and the potential for new mines is increasing. Exploration and mining of uranium has been the greatest concern in the past for communities that harvest Beverly caribou. Mineral exploration and development, primarily for uranium, has been occurring for more than 40 years on the herd's southern winter range in Saskatchewan, and many uranium mines are operating in northern Saskatchewan.
Until recently, Beverly caribou have not had to contend with too many obstacles or human caused disturbances across the northern part of their range in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Beverly caribou spend part of their annual cycle feeding and traveling on lands protected within the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary. The lands used by the herd as spring and fall migration range and winter range between the Sanctuary and Saskatchewan are primarily wilderness.
However, mineral tenures on Beverly range have been increasing steadily since the early 2000s. Uranium exploration in particular has been accelerating across the Beverly range - on winter range in northern Saskatchewan, along key spring and fall migration habitat in the Northwest Territories, and throughout calving and post-calving areas in Nunavut. More than 700 prospecting permits, mineral claims and mineral leases were active on the Beverly calving ground in late April 2009 (http://www.arctic-caribou.com/Bev_cg_mining_Apr09.html). At least three land use permits have been issued for uranium exploration on the traditional Beverly calving ground since 2006, and applications for several more land use permits for uranium exploration on Beverly key spring migration range and on the calving ground were under review by NWT and Nunavut regulatory boards in 2008 and 2009.
Activities associated with exploration and mining which have potential negative effects on Beverly caribou include frequent low-level aircraft flights (during exploration and development), construction of roads and airstrips, frequent travel by supply trucks on all-weather and winter roads, mine construction and operation, and pollution of land and water by toxic substances. These activities can result in loss of habitat, increased human access, and disturbance to caribou. In northern Saskatchewan, many existing and abandoned uranium mines on caribou range are also sources of potential contamination to wintering Beverly caribou.
Despite the relatively low human population resident on the Beverly caribou range, accelerating incremental changes to important land and water habitats of this declining caribou herd, and the cumulative effects of these activities on the Beverly herd, are of significant concern.
As explained above, considerable mineral exploration has occurred across the Beverly caribou range for decades, and uranium exploration has increased recently in the Thelon Geological Basin of the NWT and Nunavut. Until recently mineral development, primarily uranium mines, were developed exclusively on the herd's winter range in northern Saskatchewan. Past and ongoing exploration and mining in northern Saskatchewan (Athabasca region) includes:
- almost 80 companies and individuals that are searching for uranium.
- about 50 uranium mines and refineries that have operated in northern SK since the 1940s.
- many old exploration sites and mines that had serious problems and are still considered hazardous sites; in the area around Uranium City alone there are still about 40 radioactive uranium sites that have not yet been cleaned up.
AREVA Resources Canada has submitted a proposal to mine and mill uranium, on their Kiggavik and Sissons properties about 80 km west of Baker Lake. Numerous development activities may occur on Beverly post-calving and summer range, including a road and bridge across the Thelon River. If approved, this will be the first uranium development project in Nunavut, as well as the first north of 60 degrees latitude in Canada.
Extensive forest fires have modified Beverly winter range in the NWT and northern Saskatchewan. Aboriginal hunters from the region have observed changes in winter distribution and habitat use that they attribute to fire-caused habitat change. It is unclear what effect this has had on herd health or productivity, since no relevant monitoring has been done since Don Thomas's work, which was published by the BQCMB (1994a,b).
Past Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board Annual Reports listed the estimated annual harvest of Beverly caribou (for domestic and commercial use) as 4,155 in 2007-08; 4,746 in 2006-2007; 3,772 in 2005-2006; 3,634 in 2004-2005. This suggests that harvest levels may have been increasing during the herd's recent decline (see Status and Trends). However, harvest data for the Beverly herd have been difficult to obtain in recent years. In addition, the satellite telemetry suggests that communities on Beverly caribou range in Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories may have been primarily harvesting caribou from the Ahiak and Qamanirjuaq herds in recent years.
Resident and commercial harvest is recorded by governments, but there is no territory or province-wide systematic recording of Aboriginal harvest. For its 2008-2009 annual report, the BQCMB decided not to publish Aboriginal domestic harvest estimates for the Beverly herd because biologists with the governments of NWT and Saskatchewan advised that there is not enough information to reliably estimate Aboriginal domestic harvest for 2008-2009 for communities in their jurisdictions that traditionally hunted Beverly caribou (BQCMB 2009).
Trends in predator numbers are unmeasured but grizzly bear sightings on the eastern mainland have increased. However, during the 1990s, wolf den occupancy along the Thelon River in the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary decreased (A. Hall pers. comm. 2005), which may have influenced predation rates in summer.
Kivalliq Inuit Association and others. No date. Thelon Game Sanctuary Management Plan.
BQCMB 1994a. A Review of Fire Management on Forested Range of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Herd of Caribou. Technical Report 1. Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, Ottawa ON. 64pp.
BQCMB 1994b. Fire Management Recommendations for Forested Range of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Herds of Caribou. Management Report 1. Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, Ottawa ON. 11pp. (plus two foldout maps)
BQCMB 1999. Protecting Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou and caribou range. Part I: Background information. Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, Ottawa ON. 40pp.
BQCMB 2000. Protecting Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou and caribou range. Part II: Map atlas and documentation. CD-ROM created for the BQCMB by Leslie A. Wakelyn and David E.C. Taylor, Yellowknife, NWT.
BQCMB 2004. Protecting calving grounds, post-calving areas and other important habitats for Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou: A position paper. Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, Stonewall MB. 26pp
BQCMB 2005. Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Plan, 2005-2012. Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, Stonewall MB. 55pp
BQCMB 2008. Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board 26th Annual Report, 2007-2008. Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, Stonewall MB. 55pp.
BQCMB 2009. Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board 27th Annual Report, 2008-2009. Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, Stonewall MB. 66pp.
Gunn, A. and M. Sutherland. 1997. Surveys of the Beverly caribou calving grounds, 1957-1994. NWT RWED File Report no. 120. Dept. Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development. 119pp.
Gunn, A.. K. G. Poole, J. Wierzchowski, and M. Campbell. 2007. Assessment of Caribou Protection Measures. Submitted in fulfillment of NCR # 830359, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Gatineau, Québec. 41pp.
InterGroup Consultants Ltd. 2008. Economic Valuation and Socio-Cultural Perspectives of the Estimated Harvest of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Herds. Prepared for the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board. InterGroup Consultants, Winnipeg, MB. 28pp.+ 3 appendices.
Mychasiw, L. 1984. Five-year review of the Beverly and Kaminuriak Caribou Protection Measures. NWT Ren. Res. File Report No. 42. 133pp.
Northwest Territories Environment and Natural Resources. No date. Caribou Forever - Our Heritage, Our Responsibility. A Barren-ground Caribou Management Strategy for the Northwest Territories, 2006 - 2010. Government of the Northwest Territories. 38pp.
Nunavut Planning Commission. 2000. Keewatin Regional Land Use Plan. Approved June 2000. 94pp.
Williams, T.M. and A. Gunn. 1982. Descriptions of water crossings and their use by migratory barren-ground caribou in the districts of Keewatin and Mackenzie, N.W.T. NWT. Wildlife Service, Yellowknife, NWT. File Rep. No. 27. 209pp.
Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board (BQCMB): http://www.arctic-caribou.com
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada - the North: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/nth/index-eng.asp
Manitoba Conservation - Wildlife and Ecosystem Protection:
NWT Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR): http://www.enr.gov.nt.ca/
- Information on Beverly caribou: http://www.nwtwildlife.com/NWTwildlife/caribou/beverlyherd.htm
Nunavut Department of Environment (DOE) - Wildlife Management: http://www.gov.nu.ca/env/wild.shtml
Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB): http://www.nwmb.com
Saskatchewan Environment - Programs and Services:
Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board
P.O. Box 629
Stonewall MB R0C 2Z0
rossthompson 'at' mts.net
South Slave Regional Biologist
Environment and Natural Resources
Government of Northwest Territories
Ft. Smith NT X0E 0P0
Allicia_Kelly 'at' gov.nt.ca
Wildlife Biologist, Ungulates
Wildlife Division, Environment and Natural Resources
Government of Northwest Territories
Yellowknife NT X1A 2L9
Jan_Adamczewski 'at' gov.nt.ca
Biologist, Kivalliq Region
Department of Environment
P.O. Box 120
Arviat NU X0C 0E0
MCampbell1 'at' gov.nu.ca
Director of Wildlife Management
Nunavut Wildlife Management Board
P.O. Box 1379
Lot 924 Parnaivik Building
Iqaluit NU X0A 0H0
Wildlife Ecologist, Shield Region
P.O. Box 5000
La Ronge SK S0J 1L0
ttrottier 'at' serm.gov.sk.ca
P.O. Box 28, 59 Elizabeth Dr.
Thompson MB R8N 1X4
Daryll.Hedman 'at' gov.mb.ca
Regional Director General
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada - Nunavut Region
Building 918, Box 100
Iqaluit NU X0A 0H0