Yukon wildlife and our way of life

Wade Istchenko, MLA for Kluane

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, August 5, 2016
by Wade Istchenko, Minister of Environment

Hunting and fishing are key aspects of the Yukon way of life, and it is important to our government to ensure we can continue these activities in a sustainable manner. As this year’s hunting season begins, I’d like to highlight our government’s support for traditional ways of life while also maintaining our fish and wildlife populations across Yukon.

Since elected, our government has promoted and enhanced access to hunting, fishing and trapping activities. In addition, we have increased data collection efforts and promoted the sustainable harvest of Yukon wildlife by fostering cooperation between researchers, outfitters, trappers and wildlife conservation groups.

We continue to provide Yukoners with up-to-date information regarding hunting and fishing ethics, regulations, and outdoor preparedness. Our Hunter Education and Ethics Development (HEED) training is taken by over 300 people each year and we’ve made this beneficial course more widely accessible by providing it online. This was part of our government’s Environment eServices initiative, which has also allowed Yukoners to purchase angling licences and camping permits online. We hope to expand these services soon to offer hunting seals, licences and online harvest reporting as well.

Wade Istchenko at Miles CanyonThrough our work to manage wildlife resources sustainably and responsibly, we address conservation concerns, work to mitigate human-animal conflict, and monitor species populations throughout the territory with regional partners.

For big game species, we work with First Nations, communities, renewable resource councils and the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board to ensure wildlife populations remain stable. Most recently, we have partnered with the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and the Alsek Renewable Resource Council to help recover the Alsek moose population.

Our government has also completed a number of management plans since 2011 to help recover identified species at risk and provide resources to support stable populations. Examples include the Aishihik Wood Bison Herd, the Chisana Caribou Herd and the Yukon Wolf Management Plans.

In this past year, we wrapped up our second year of implementing the Aishihik Wood Bison Herd Management Plan with a herd health assessment, and we continued data collection on herd size, location and offspring of all big game species to assess population health to enhance opportunities for ongoing sustainable harvest.

Our government is also committed to the conservation and assessment of our fish populations. For instance, we continue to monitor population trends of our territory’s lake trout, whitefish and burbot, and we are currently promoting conservation on Frenchman, Twin, Fox and Kusawa Lakes due to signs of depleted lake trout stocks. We continue to explore ways to enhance and recover all Yukon fish populations to ensure stocks can be replenished and remain healthy while still allowing Yukoners the opportunity to fish freely and conservatively.

Overall, in the past year our government has invested over $1 million in more than 30 fish and wildlife-related projects that help us monitor the health and status of these important populations, and fulfill our commitments in community fish and wildlife plans. Our government’s great work on management and data collection has not only informed our decisions for setting sustainable harvest levels, it has also provided baseline information to help assess environmental impacts.