Completion of Recovery Strategy for Barren-ground Caribou and Management Plan for Bats in the NWT

Date: 
Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Northwest Territories (NWT) Conference of Management Authorities (CMA), established under the Species at Risk (NWT) Act, has completed the Recovery Strategy for Barren-ground Caribou in the NWT and the Management Plan for Bats in the NWT.

The recovery strategy and management plan were publicly released on July 9, 2020, in accordance with the Species at Risk (NWT) Act and following CMA acceptance of these documents on April 9, 2020.

The Recovery Strategy for Barren-ground Caribou in the NWT is the result of a collaborative effort by diverse groups across the range of barren-ground caribou in the NWT. It applies to all barren-ground caribou herds in the NWT except the Porcupine herd, which is considered geographically distinct and not at risk at this time. The recovery strategy will provide overarching guidance on management and stewardship of barren-ground caribou in the NWT over the long term. Herd-specific requirements are met through more detailed herd-specific management plans (either existing or under development).

The social, cultural, and economic value of barren-ground caribou to the people of the NWT is immense. Many of the herds are at historically low numbers and are facing unprecedented pressure from a range of threats and cumulative effects. The recovery strategy aims to maintain or restore herd populations, support and maintain the caribou-people relationship, ensure movement and migration across their historic ranges, and promote the conditions necessary for recovery. Approaches to achieve this include a focus on monitoring, research and knowledge sharing, assessment and management of cumulative effects, and habitat and migration route protection, among others.

The recovery strategy recognizes that management actions for barren-ground caribou in the NWT are carried out in a collaborative process with co-management boards, IGOs, territorial/provincial/federal governments, and communities located on or near the current and historical ranges of herds.

The multi-species Management Plan for Bats in the NWT was designed to meet the management needs of all bat species in the NWT, including little brown myotis and northern myotis, the two bat species listed as species at risk in the NWT, as well as the long-eared myotis, long-legged myotis, big brown bat, silver-haired bat, hoary bat, and eastern red bat.

Bats are a unique and important group of species in our ecosystem. They prey on a wide range of insect types and eat large numbers of insects; some can consume the equivalent of their own body weight in insects each night. Bats are long-living and reproduce relatively slowly, which makes them sensitive to population decline. White-nose syndrome is the main threat to most bats in the NWT. Although it has not yet been detected in the NWT, it has caused rapid and severe bat population declines in areas with disease in North America. At the current rate of expansion, white-nose syndrome is expected to reach the NWT within the next decade. Other important threats include human impacts at hibernacula (i.e., activities that change hibernacula conditions), removal of maternity roosts, exclusion of bats from buildings using inappropriate methods, loss of roosting and foraging habitat, wind turbines, environmental contaminants, and domestic cats. The management plan recommends enhancing knowledge of NWT bats to inform sound management decisions, monitoring and managing for white-nose syndrome, preventing or reducing harm to bats associated with human activities, and increasing awareness, acceptance, and stewardship of bats and their habitats.

Success in the conservation, management, and recovery of these species depends on the commitment and cooperation of the many different groups that will be involved in implementing the recommendations set out in the recovery strategy and management plan cannot be achieved by the Management Authorities or any other group alone. All NWT residents are invited to join in supporting and implementing these plans for the benefit of these species in the NWT.

There are no automatic prohibitions or protections associated with the adoption of the recovery strategy or management plan.

The CMA has until April 9, 2021 to develop consensus agreements on the implementation of the recovery strategy and management plan. These ‘implementation agreements’ will outline how the Management Authorities for barren-ground caribou and bats intend to undertake implementation.

Additional information on barren-ground caribou and the two at-risk bat species, as well as supporting documentation, is available here.