The International Porcupine Caribou Board invites all interested people to attend a public meeting on Wednesday, April 18, from 7-9 pm at the Morris Thompson Cultural Center 101 Dunkel Street, Fairbanks, to hear an update on this joint Canadian-U.S. effort to ensure the continuation of the Porcupine Caribou Herd.
The Porcupine Caribou Herd is the 5th largest herd of migratory caribou in North America. It migrates over approximately 180,000 square miles of Northern Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territories. The herd derives its name from the Porcupine River which runs through a large part of its range. The herd’s 169,000 animals migrate more than1,500 miles annually between their winter range and calving grounds, the longest land migration route of any land mammal on earth. They are the primary subsistence resource of the Gwich’in people, who traditionally built their communities based upon the caribou’s migration patterns. They are also routinely hunted by other peoples, including the Inupiat, Inuvialuit, Hän, and Northern Tutchone.
The Board was created through the Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on the Conservation of the Porcupine Caribou Herd signed in 1987, and first met in 1989. The Agreement specifies how the two countries will collaborate, such as ensuring “…that the Porcupine Caribou Herd, its habitat and the interests of users of Porcupine Caribou are given effective consideration in evaluating proposed activities within the range of the Herd.” and “Where an activity in one country is determined to be likely to cause significant long-term adverse impact on the Porcupine Caribou Herd or its habitat, the other Party will be notified and given an opportunity to consult prior to final decision.” While advice and recommendations of the Board are not binding on the Parties, the parries will, by virtue of the Agreement, consider the advice and respond to the recommendations of the Board.
The Board is comprised of four members from Canada and four from the Unites States. Canadian membership includes Wendy Nixon (Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada), Kelly Milner (Fish and Wildlife Branch, Yukon Department of Environment), Marsha Branigan (Wildlife Management, Environment and Natural Resources – Inuvik Region, Northwest Territories), and Joe Tetlichi (Chair, Porcupine Caribou Management Board within Canada).
The U.S. is represented by Geoffrey Haskett, Alaska Regional Director, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service; Craig Fleener, Deputy Commissioner, Alaska Department of Fish and Game; the Inupiat (Edward Rexford) and the Alaska G’wich’in (Edward Frank) Villages.
At the first meeting, the Board reviewed its roles and responsibilities, and its interactions with the Porcupine Caribou Technical Committee of biologists, which provides advice and updates to the Board. The April 18-19 Board meetings will discuss a communications strategy, compare harvest management plans in Alaska and Canada, discuss the Arctic Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan, and identify potential developments that may impact the Porcupine Caribou Herd and its habitat.