Wildlife management in the North is inextricably tied to
aboriginal rights and land claims, to the rapidly evolving
relationships between First Nations and non-native communities and
governments, and the April 1, 2014 devolution of power from the
federal to the NTW government. It is also affected by the rapid
march of climate change, and the growing presence of foreign
interests as the Northwest Passage becomes accessible. In this very
complex, uncertain and unstable legal context, reaching general
agreement on a new wildlife management regime will be a significant
achievement for all concerned.
The focus of the Bill is collaborative stewardship of wildlife
and sustainable harvesting by both native and non-native hunters.
In cases of direct conflict, aboriginal hunting rights have
The Bill claims an ecosystem and habitat based approach that recognizes the interconnection of allliving things and the value of biodiversity.
It will be subject to land claims agreements and to constitutional
aboriginal rights to accommodation and consultation. In many areas,
the Bill delegates substantial decision making to co-management
boards with substantial or majority First Nations membership,
depending on land claims agreements.
A presentation summarizing the Bill and how it has been affected
by public consultation is available here. The Bill strives to balance rights and
obligations, including a novel section called Proper Conduct On The
Land, as well as the usual provisions for permitting Commercial And
Other Activities, Conservation And Management Measures and
"2(1) The Government of the Northwest Territories and all
persons and bodies exercising powers and performing duties and
other functions under this Act shall do so in accordance with the
(a) wildlife is to be conserved for its intrinsic value and for
the benefit of present and future generations;
(b) the conservation and management of wildlife and habitat is
to be carried out on an ecosystem basis, recognizing the
interconnection of wildlife with the environment;
(c) the conservation and management of wildlife and habitat is
to be conducted in an integrated and collaborative manner;
(d) traditional Aboriginal values and practices in relation to
the harvesting and conservation of wildlife are to be recognized
(e) the best available information, including traditional,
scientific and local knowledge, is to be used in the conservation
and management of wildlife and habitat;
(f) where there are threats of serious or irreparable harm to
wildlife or habitat, lack of complete certainty is not to be a
reason for postponing reasonable conservation measures."
The Bill is still awaiting third reading and approval. The
government has promised that "consultation and public
engagement will be ongoing to provide opportunities for input into
regulation development and wildlife management decisions."
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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