This week, the territorial government announced an additional $700 per wolf carcass in the North Slave region as a step to supporting barren-ground caribou herd recovery.
The wolf harvest incentive area encompasses the Wekweètì region as well as the Ekati, Diavik, Snap Lake, Gahcho Kué, and Colomac mines.
The territory said the incentive will be effective immediately for the current season.
Hunters and trappers who harvest within the boundaries of the incentive area will now receive $900 per carcass, up from $200 per skinned wolf (which remains the set rate across the rest of the territory).
Harvesters across the NWT will also received an additional $400 if their pelt meets traditional or taxidermy standards, plus another $350 if the fur meets the Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur program’s prime fur bonus requirements.
A wolf–harvesting program has been in place since 2010 in the territory to support the traditional economy and attempt to prevent the caribou herds’ continued decline.
“The new wolf harvest incentive area overlaps with the current wintering range of the Bathurst and Bluenose-East caribou herds, where tundra wolves are expected to be located with the migrating barren-ground caribou,” said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) in a statement.
“Both caribou herds have shown dramatic population declines over the past several years.
“Focusing increased incentives on this area will encourage more wolves to be harvested where it will have the greatest impact on caribou herd recovery, while also increasing the likelihood of a successful harvest for hunters.”
In August, ENR met with Elders, youth, and Indigenous governments and organizations to discuss why harvesters had not been participating in the previous incentive program.
They learned there are high costs associated with fuel and supplies to reach wolves in areas where the caribou are.
Not long after, the government learned herd numbers for both the Bluenose-East and Bathurst herds had significantly declined again.
“Carcasses collected through the program will be analyzed to improve our scientific understanding of wolves,” explained ENR.
“Pelts harvested from the wolves may be sold at auctions … or privately by the harvester.”
Participating in the program
“Wolf harvesters going into the wolf harvest incentives area will be required to register at a patrol station prior to hunting,” noted ENR.
Patrol stations can be found at Gordon Lake and Wekweètì, with an additional station possible in Gametì depending on where the barren-ground caribou can be found this winter.
ENR explained that harvesters who get a wolf in the incentive area will have to bring the carcass to a patrol station to be marked.
At the same time, they will receive a receipt to cash in at a North Slave ENR office (in either Yellowknife or Behchokǫ̀).
“The harvester will then have the option of either taking the wolf carcass home for pelt preparation or leaving it with patrol station staff, who will arrange for skilled skinners to prepare the pelt and securely store the carcass until it can be transported for necropsy and scientific analysis,” the department continued.
Resident hunters are only eligible for the new $900 wolf carcass incentive.
Illegal caribou hunting
The department also stressed the new incentive area overlaps with the Mobile Core Bathurst Caribou Management Zone, where harvesters are not allowed to hunt caribou.
“ENR officers will engage in increased educational efforts with harvesters at patrol stations and will also be increasing the frequency of aerial and ground enforcement patrols to minimize the risk of infractions,” ENR cautioned.