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2024-25 SCARF project summaries

Five projects were awarded funding in 2024-25 from a total budget of $60,000. Descriptions of approved projects are provided below.

Monitoring and Protection of Athabasca Denesųłiné Nuhenéné and Etthën (caribou) using Denesųłiné Traditional Protocols

Project lead: Athabasca Denesųłiné Néné Land Corporation

Species at risk focus: Barren-ground caribou

The Athabasca Denesųłiné Né Né Land Corporation is developing a program to monitor caribou harvest in the southern NWT to ensure harvesters are following traditional protocols. This has been identified as a top priority by the three Athabasca Denesųłiné First Nations through the development of a caribou relationship plan. From January to March 2025, six monitors will go out on the land where caribou are being harvested. They will take note of any wastage or disrespectful harvest practices. Monitors will also provide harvesters with information on traditional protocols and respectful harvesting and field processing of caribou. Field observations will be used to develop strategic education and awareness programs, and to shape the land monitoring program so it is adaptively managed and improved for the following year. This project is expected to reduce wastage and overharvest, increase awareness of traditional protocols, and provide communities and organizations with information they need to protect caribou and caribou habitat for the long term.

Community-led Species at Risk Detection: eDNA Sampling in Traditionally Important Water Bodies of the North Slave Region

Project lead: North Slave Métis Alliance

Species at risk focus: Various

The goal of this project is to identify species at risk at culturally important sites within NSMA traditional territory by combining western science methodologies with local and traditional knowledge of those species and sites. NSMA has now completed five years of its eDNA project, which has expanded to include other non-invasive monitoring techniques using audio (ARU) and visual (wildlife camera) recordings. Activities in 2024-2025 will include: further eDNA sampling, with a focus on identifying wetland sites at Old Fort Rae that could host amphibians; further ARU and wildlife camera monitoring to inform site management and conservation; and invertebrate sampling (malaise and pitfall traps). Findings will help to inform NSMA’s guardianship program.

Collared Pika Education and Awareness Project

Project lead: Ecology North

Species at risk focus: Collared pika

The goal of this project is to promote the collared pika and its status as a species at risk in Canada. In particular, the project will focus on developing educational resources to increase awareness of the risks the species is facing, ongoing recovery efforts, and the role of collared pika within NWT ecosystems. This project will also highlight the impacts of changing precipitation patterns on collared pika habitat.

Post-fire status of reptiles and amphibians in the NWT

Project lead: Thompson Rivers University

Species at risk focus: Red-sided garter snake, northern leopard frog, western toad

Reptiles and amphibians are important predators in terrestrial, semi-aquatic, and aquatic environments and act as prey to many other wildlife species. However, neither group has been well-studied in the NWT and many knowledge gaps exist respecting abundance, life history, ecology, and vulnerability/response to threats. In this context, the goals of this project are to document and assess persistence at previously recorded sites of occurrence; update abundance estimates or indices of abundance; gather information on sex ratio, age class, condition, and health; and increase understanding of the fire ecology of these species (i.e. vulnerability and response to wildfires). Activities in 2024-2025 will include: field measurements (sex, weight, length, DNA), PIT tagging, and radio tracking up to twelve individual snakes with small transmitters.

Northern Whooping Crane Festival

Project lead: Fort Smith Métis Council

Species at risk focus: Whooping crane and various

This inaugural festival aims to advance the conservation and recovery of several NWT species at risk by raising awareness of species at risk in the South Slave region, including whooping crane, wood bison, bats (northern myotis and little brown myotis), amphibians and boreal caribou. The festival will include presentations related to research and recovery projects for these species, as well as opportunities for residents to learn how they can get involved. A key element of this event will be engaging Indigenous communities; several local Indigenous governments and local knowledge holders are involved in the festival, and a panel discussion is being planned to focus on the merits of creating Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) in key areas to support the conservation of species at risk. The festival is an opportunity to strengthen the relationships among wildlife managers and IGIOs in the South Slave to continue working together to plan for future species at risk outreach and conservation activities.