Jul 23, 2008

Buffalo Dene Nation: Caribou tracking collars safe, N.W.T. official maintains

In response to a recent Dene national assembly motion condemning the use of satellite collars on caribou, Canadian officials maintain their safety.

Below is an article published by CBC News :

Wildlife officials in the Northwest Territories are defending the use of satellite collars to monitor caribou, after the Dene Nation voted recently to demand an immediate ban on the practice.

Earlier this month [July 2008], delegates at the Dene national assembly in Fort McPherson, N.W.T., unanimously passed a motion calling on the collaring ban, alleging the procedure can cause stress and injury to the animals.

Susan Fleck, director of wildlife for the territorial government, said satellite collars can help officials calculate the size of caribou herds.

Fleck insisted that staff follow strict rules to ensure the caribou endure very little trauma or injury.
Wildlife staff track a caribou with a helicopter, then fire a net over the animal before landing the aircraft and fitting the collar.

"It takes about five minutes, is my understanding, to actually capture the caribou and put the collar on," Fleck told CBC News.

"There's no drugs used so that the animal, when it's released from the net, it's just able to run away."
Fleck said officials use a helicopter to chase a caribou for no more than a minute, and the collaring process overall cannot last more than 10 minutes.

The government is currently monitoring five caribou herds across the Northwest Territories, and roughly 20 caribou are collared per herd, Fleck said.

Communities use the tracking information from the collars to hunt for food during the winter.