The Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) is the main instrument of wildlife management in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA) and has responsibilities regarding management planning1. Since its creation, the GRRB has collaborated with various agencies, neighbour jurisdictions and government departments to implement and elaborate on wildlife species management plans for the GSA, including those for species that migrate across boundaries. The GRRB works closely with the Renewable Resource Councils (RRCs) to create, update and implement management plans.
1 Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement section 12.8.23 (c) [the GRRB] “approve plans for the management and protection of particular wildlife populations, including transplanted wildlife populations and endangered species, and particular wildlife habitats including conservation areas, territorial parks and national parks in the settlement area;”
Many animals inhabit or migrate into the GSA. Some animals have species-specific management plans, which are described below. Other species do not have a management plan in place. However, Gwich’in people are natural conservationists and have traditional ways of managing the land they live on. By regularly meeting with the RRCs and the communities, the GRRB addresses a wide variety of management issues and concerns whether they are in a management plan or expressed at meetings. Visit our Research Priorities page for more information on management interests of species not listed below or our Species At Risk page for information on various species considered at risk by the Federal or Territorial Government.
Vadzaih – Caribou
Porcupine Caribou herd and Harvest Management Plan
This herd ranges in five aboriginal land claim areas and close to eight communities in two territories in Canada, as well as into Alaska, USA. The Porcupine caribou herd is primarily managed through the Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement (1985). The Porcupine Caribou Management Board (PCMB) is the advisory board established under the Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement to communicate information about the herd and provide recommendations to agencies responsible for managing the herd. The Harvest Management Plan coordinates management actions in Canada for this herd and allows for proactive, responsible management and use of the herd.
The GRRB is assisting Parties to the Plan in implementing management actions and collecting harvest information through community interviews. The herd is currently in the Green Zone, indicating that the management actions supported by all parties are:
- Harvest only the amount needed
- Licensed hunters receive a maximum of two bull tags
- Shooting will be accurate and wounded animals will be retrieved
- Parties will collect rigorous and verifiable harvest data, to be provided before the Annual Harvest Meeting
For more information about the herd and the management planning process and agreement, visit the Porcupine Caribou Management Board.
Bluenose-West, Bluenose-East, and Cape Bathurst Caribou
The caribou never forget the trails they have made in the past. They follow the same trail all the time. It’s just like the way we are told to look after the land, these caribou are the same.
– Johnny Charlie Sr. GEKP interview, 1995
The Bluenose-West, Bluenose-East, and Cape Bathurst Caribou herd (called Bluenose caribou in the past) span two territories and multiple jurisdictions and traditional territories. The management of this herd is mainly done through the Taking Care of Caribou: The Cape Bathurst, Bluenose-West, and Bluenose-East Barren-ground Caribou Herds Management Plan which was approved in 2015. This plan was developed by the Advisory Committee for Cooperation on Wildlife Management (ACCWM) in consultation with 17 communities. The ACCWM was established to exchange information, help develop cooperation and consensus and make recommendations regarding wildlife and wildlife habitat issues that cross land claim and treaty boundaries. The ACCWM meets annually to make management recommendations to the appropriate Minister.
As the main management authority in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA), the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) is a member of the ACCWM alongside the Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę Gots’ę́ Nákedı (Sahtú Renewable Resources Board), the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (NWT), the Wek’èezhìı Renewable Resources Board (WRRB), the Kitikmeot Regional Wildlife Board (KRWB), and the Tuktut Nogait National Park Management Board. In its role, the GRRB meets annually with hunters and community members that harvest these caribou or use the land where these caribou roam. Thanks to these community members, the GRRB can gather various information on the herds, their habitat, predators, on climate change and on human disturbance. This information is then shared annually with other ACCWM members alongside scientific information.
For the current herd status, please visit https://accwm.com/herd-status
The Management Plan, technical report, community report and action plans can be found on the ACCWM website.
Woodland Caribou (boreal population)
The Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) and the Renewable Resource Councils (RRCs) do not have a management plan for this subspecies in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA). However, both the Territorial and Federal governments have produced management documents for this subspecies. In Canada, this subspecies is in decline and facing several threats, mainly from anthropogenic disturbance. In the GSA, we do not have much information on the status of this subspecies, but it is believed that the population is stable.
At the federal level, this population is considered threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), Boreal population, in Canada was produced in 2012. In 2019, the Government of the Northwest Territories produced the Framework for Boreal Caribou Range Planning that guides the development of five regional boreal caribou range plans between 2019 and 2023. More information can be found on our Species At Risk page.
Woodland Caribou (Northern Mountain population)
The Northern Mountain caribou population is found in the southern part of the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA), in the Mackenzie mountains. No management plans exist in the GSA for this population. At the national level, this subspecies is listed as Special Concern under the federal Species At Risk Act and the Northwest Territories Species At Risk Act. A national management plan for northern mountain caribou was put in place in 2012. More information can be found on our Species at Risk page.
Dinjik – Moose
There is more moose nowadays than when I was growing up. Lots of moose now. Everything is more than what we used to have because people don’t depend on it that much. Younger people don’t ever hunt moose unless they run into it.
– Allen Koe, GEKP Interview, 1996
In 2000, the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) and the four Renewable Resource Councils (RRCs) approved the Moose Management Plan for the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA), Northwest Territories. This management plan is a framework for the management of moose, the protection of their habitats and the protection of Gwich’in harvesting rights. The management plan includes an Action Plan and a Work Plan. It is the only moose management plan in place in the Northwest Territories as of 2020! As of now, it is believed that the moose population is either stable or increasing in most areas of the GSA, based on community comments and scientific monitoring.
Divii – Dall’s Sheep
I would like to see our sheep protected. Whatever species live in the Delta, like ducks, they come back every year. The sheep, the caribou, the moose, the bear, they stay with us all year round, they don’t go south.
– Alfred Francis, GEKP Interview, 1996
Management Plan for Dall’s Sheep in the Northern Richardson Mountains – Recommended Draft Plan – 2008
This population has been monitored using aerial surveys since the early 1980s. Around 1997, this population started to decrease in number substantially. In 2008, several management bodies came together to produce a draft management plan for this population. However, the management plan was never fully signed by all the parties. Since then, the GRRB approved several priority actions from this draft and has worked with the communities to implement these actions. The GRRB notably leads a community-based monitoring program for this population (see Wildlife Monitoring and Research).
Divii in the Mackenzie Mountains
There is currently no management plan for the divii in the Mackenzie Mountains. People rarely go there nowadays. The Arctic Red River Outfitters outfit for shozhin’ (large/adult ram) and it is believed that the population is stable.
Shih- Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear Management Plan and Agreement (2000 and 2002)
The Grizzly Bear Management Plan for the Gwich’in Settlement Area was developed by the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB), Renewable Resource Councils (RRCs) and the Government of the Northwest Territories in 2000. The plan provides a framework for the management of grizzly bears, protection of grizzly habitat and the protection of Gwich’in harvesting rights. As mentioned in the management plan, the best way to manage grizzly bears is to make a plan so that everyone can agree on what needs to be done and who is doing it. In addition, the Grizzly Management Agreement was signed by the RRCs and GRRB in 2002. This document outlines several objectives pertaining to grizzly conservation and harvest.
Updated Shih (Grizzly Bear) Management Plan – Gwich’in Settlement Area
In 2020, the GRRB started consulting on an updated Shih Management Plan for the Gwich’in Settlement Area. In 2022, the updated management plan is in its final review process. We are expecting an updated plan by the end of the year, so stay tuned!
In 2018, aak’ii was listed as a research and management priority in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA). Currently, there is no management plan for this species in the GSA. However, the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) and other co-management partners are regularly engaging with the communities regarding concerns over the possible effect that aak’ii have on caribou. More information on aak’ii can be found on our Research and Monitoring page.