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WHITEHORSE – Kluane MLA Wade Istchenko is calling for the Liberal government to follow Chapter 16 of the Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA) to address declining thinhorn sheep populations in several areas of southwest Yukon.
Chapter 16 of the UFA outlines Yukon and First Nations governments co-management via the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, along with Renewable Resource Councils. This process has been followed since the UFA was established. However, in the past few years, the current government has begun to undercut that process, through what the Liberals call ‘adaptive management’ where the Minister of Environment bypasses the Chapter 16 process and makes wildlife decisions unilaterally.
“On something as complex and important as the sheep populations in this part of the Yukon, I am skeptical of this new process,” said Istchenko. “I hope the Liberal government and the Minister of Environment reconsider using the adaptive management process and stick with what has served Yukoners to date: the regulation change proposal set out in Chapter 16 of the UFA.”
Istchenko also encourages the Minister to look at management actions other than simply limiting licensed harvest. In his November 2023 press release announcing consultation with stakeholders, the Minister states that management tools include permits, permit hunt authorizations, registration hunts, and closures.
“I think this list of tools is too limited,” added Istchenko. “The Minister should be giving careful consideration to other management tools that have worked both in the Yukon and other jurisdictions. Those include habitat enhancement, predator management, education, and other methods to promote recovery.”
Istchenko is encouraging the minister to lean on the knowledge of groups like the Fish and Game Association, the Outfitters Association, and the Wild Sheep Foundation. Engagement is also needed with the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and the Renewable Resource Councils in the way that the UFA intended: as the primary instruments of wildlife management.