Close Carcross Caribou General Open Season

Regulation Number: 
2020-06-01
Status: 
Decided
Region: 
Region 6 - Skeena
MU: 
6-27
Regulation Type: 
General Open Season
Species: 
Caribou
Closing Date: 
January 19, 2020 at midnight
Decision Statement: 

This regulation was approved as proposed and is included in the 2020-2022 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis.

Current Regulations: 

CARIBOU

6-17 to 6-20, 6-22 to 6-27

5 point Bulls

Aug 15 - Oct 15

1

Proposed Regulations: 

Remove this hunt from regulation

Rationale: 

The Carcross caribou population, which spans the B.C./Yukon border, substantially declined 20-25 years ago. Following the decline, First Nations in the area voluntarily ceased hunting caribou in 1993 to facilitate the recovery of the herd. The Yukon Government also eliminated licensed harvest around the same time for the Yukon portion of the herd’s range. Individual members from the nations are still known to hunt caribou at a far reduced level from what the community would prefer to harvest. These voluntary and regulatory closures likely played a role in the rebuilding of the herd.

The population has recovered substantially, and, given the apparent increase in herd size, First Nations are considering initiating a hunt for food, social, and ceremonial purposes, pursuant to their Aboriginal Rights.

The majority of animals in the herd winter on the Yukon side of the border and in the summer and fall the herd expands southward into BC. In a 2015 fall composition count of the 720 caribou observed 120 were sighted south of the Yukon/BC border (16.7%).

BC maintained a licensed general open season (5 point bulls, Aug 15-Oct 15) throughout the period of voluntary restrictions based on the remoteness of the area and the low harvest.

The projected First Nations harvest (and known road mortality) are anticipated to account for the allowable human caused mortality of this herd and, therefore, preclude any available licenced harvest opportunities in both B.C. and the Yukon.

The current general open season for caribou in MU 6-27 was based on a harvestable surplus assuming no human-caused mortality other than BC licensed harvest. New information on human-caused mortality has altered this assumption leading to the regulation change proposal.

Management planning, underway, for the herd may result in future opportunities for licensed harvest in B.C. through harvest sharing agreements between BC, First Nations, and the Yukon Government.

Additional Information: 

The majority of the Carcross caribou herd spends its time on the Yukon side of the border (especially in winter). Approximately 1/3 of the population migrate south from the Yukon to BC in summer and fall during the hunting season. The total population has increased to the point of meeting the original management targets set out by Southern Lakes Caribou Committee to a level which can support First Nations lifting the voluntary harvest ban. Although licensed harvest in BC did not prevent recovery, new information on expected First Nations harvest and road mortality it is anticipated that continuing a licensed harvest in BC will not be sustainable.

On average, over the last 10 years there have been 15 resident hunters hunting caribou in the area harvesting 1.4 caribou/year. Over the same time period there was an average of 10 non-resident hunters killing 4.7 caribou/year. The total harvest from 2006-2017 was 61 caribou (6.1 caribou/year).

Herd size estimate = 800

Population trend = stable

Proportion of herd on BC side of border (based on 2015 comp survey) = 0.167

Estimated sustainable harvest rate = 2.0%

Annual allowable mortality = 800 x 0.02 = 16 caribou

Road mortality (5-year average) = 7.4/year (combination of male and female)

Caribou available for harvest = 16 – 7.4 = 8.6/year

Estimated harvest by First Nations  = 6-12/year (combination of male and female)

Available licensed hunter harvest = 0