The Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board wants more funding to support the conservation and management of the caribou herds over the next decade.
In a news release on Thursday, the board said it has been underfunded for years and could disappear without additional support.
The board has proposed a new agreement with various levels of government that would provide stable funding and, the group said, make Indigenous governments equal partners.
“We need to strengthen the BQCMB’s ability to play a strong, effective role in conservation and management of the two caribou herds for the future, and we need to more successfully engage Indigenous communities, youth, and Elders,” incoming executive director Tina Giroux-Robillard said in a statement.
With territorial, provincial, and Indigenous governments, the board has helped to manage the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou herds since 1982, tracking threats like development, climate change, illegal harvesting, and disease, while providing advice on monitoring and protection.
The caribou herds migrate across Nunavut, the NWT, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.
“Across the range, Cree, Dene, Inuit, and Métis communities have relied on these herds to meet their nutritional, cultural, and spiritual needs for millennia. We need to ensure they can continue to rely on them, today and in the future,” board chair Earl Evans said in a statement.
“Without proper oversight, the consequences of these threats to the herds – and the people who rely on them – could be dire.”
The board pointed out the Bathurst caribou herd is facing a drastic decline, with numbers dropping from around 470,000 in the mid-1980s to 8,200 in 2018. Board members are concerned the same thing could happen to the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq herds.
The NWT declared eight barren-ground caribou herds threatened species in July 2018, including the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq herds. Population estimates suggest both herds have significantly declined over the past decade.
The board’s current management agreement expires in March 2022. It has sent the proposed new agreement to the federal, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan governments.