Accepted Paper:

'I think because of the highway there is no caribou sometimes': Changing hunting practices along the Dempster Highway  


Erin Consiglio (University of Aberdeen)

Paper Short Abstract:

The Dempster Highway has provided access to caribou hunters from all over the Yukon, however, some Gwitchin elders claim they are not following traditional rules of respect. Development proposals in the area include new access roads, leading to a request for better monitoring of hunters.

Paper long abstract:

The Vuntut Gwitchin of the northern Yukon have relied on the Porcupine Caribou Herd for generations; today, the herd is vulnerable to oil development in their calving grounds on the coastal plain in Alaska, and in their winter range around the Eagle Plains region of the Yukon. Oil exploration in Eagle Plains has already resulted in a network of roads and seismic lines, and Chance Oil and Gas has applied for additional permits to expand their exploration in the area. Migrating caribou have been known to travel along roads and follow seismic lines as these flat, open areas allow for faster and easier movement. However, roads allow easier access to hunters as well, who are able to travel further and carry more. This increases hunting pressure on the herd, and has also changed the way people hunt. Since the opening of the Dempster Highway, there have been complaints about incidents of 'disrespectful' hunting, including hunters leaving parts of the caribou behind or taking more than they need; if hunters are disrespectful, the caribou might not return. The development proposal for Eagle Plains includes plans for six new access roads from the Dempster Highway, and there is some concern about how to prevent these problems on the new roads. This paper will examine some of the ways that roads have changed traditional hunting practices in Vuntut Gwitchin Traditional Territory, and some of the solutions Gwitchin have suggested for enforcing hunting regulations on roads, including hiring more local wildlife monitors.

Panel P027
Lines on the land: mobility and stasis in northern extractive landscapes