2014-2017 Winter Track Surveys
Communities, government and industry have all expressed interest in monitoring the cumulative impacts of oil and gas exploration activity and other natural factors on wildlife within the Sahtu region. The Cumulative Impacts Monitoring Program (CIMP) has provided funding to start a collaborative wildlife monitoring program entitled "Multi-species monitoring using winter wildlife track surveys in the Sahtu Settlement Region" that uses surveys of wildlife tracks in the snow to measure changes in abundance and distribution of species such as boreal woodland caribou, moose, wolves and other furbearers. The territorial government, Sahtu Renewable Resources Board, Renewable Resource Councils and industry (ConocoPhillips, Husky and Explor) will be partners on this project. Wildlife monitors from communities would be hired to conduct surveys by snow mobile along trails and seismic lines. Each time a wildlife track is seen crossing the trail a photo of the track and a location (GPS point) would be recorded. This will provide a map of where wildlife tracks are seen on the land. By repeating the surveys along the same trails and seismic lines over many years we can measure whether wildlife abundance and distribution is changing and if there is a link to the amount of industrial activity, forest fires and other human activity in different areas. This will help wildlife and land managers to understand the combined impacts of industrial development and natural disturbances and help to guide decisions about land use and wildlife harvesting.
- Wendy Wright