In June 2018, the Council of the Anishnabe Nation of Lac Simon signed a contribution agreement of $1.26M for a period of 5 years with Environment and Climate Change Canada for the implementation of actions for the recovery of woodland caribou south of Val-d’Or, in partnership with the First Nations of Long Point and Kitcisakik. In addition, Quebec has been involved throughout the development of this agreement since it is responsible for many of the jurisdictions involved in the recovery of the species, including land and wildlife resource management.

The activities included in the work plan for the period 2018-2023 are the following and can be amended according to the evolution of the state of the woodland caribou population :

Recovery Strategy

• Dismantling, closing and reforestation of forest roads to improve habitat quality in the Val-d’Or woodland caribou range (deferred to 2019 and 2020 due to lack of authorization);
• Implementation of a predator control program (bears and wolves) (carried out in 2018 and 2019, suspended in 2020 due to caribou enclosures);
• In collaboration with the Quebec government, participation in two fall overflights per year to conduct an annual census of the Val-d’Or herd.

Research Projects

• Identification of Val-d’Or caribou sensitive areas. These sectors will be used to prioritize logging road and hunting camp closures and depredation activities (St-Laurent & Gosselin, 2020);
• Redefinition of the boundaries of the territory that will need to be protected and restored in order to provide the herd with a habitat conducive to maintaining a healthy and self-sufficient population, based on traditional and scientific knowledge (St-Laurent & Gosselin, 2020);
• Implementation of a monitoring program for closed/reforested forest roads (postponed due to the postponement of road closures);
• Gathering of relevant information to support decision making regarding the reintroduction of fawns from another herd, in order to increase the herd size and genetic diversity of the Val d’Or herd;
• Completion of a literature review and a pilot (experimental) project on lichen seeding. The objective is to evaluate and master this technique in order to eventually carry out large-scale lichen seeding if necessary;
• Completion of a mapping inventory of lichen sites. The identification of these sites will allow for better management.

Raising awareness and mobilization

  • Promotion of the project at the community level;
  • Raising awareness among land users about caribou disturbance and the appropriate behaviours to adopt in their habitat;
  • Possibility for the communities to have the necessary means to participate in the various meetings and events concerning woodland caribou.

Since the signing of the agreement in 2018, the caribou population has changed significantly, from 18 caribou in 2016 to 7 in 2020. Adjustments to the work plan are therefore necessary and are being made. In addition, the Lac Simon First Nation is working directly with the MFFP on certain activities related to the management of the woodland caribou population south of Val-d’Or, including the captive custody of the remaining individuals. Although captive keeping cannot be seen as a conservation action as such and we are eager to learn about the continuation of the protection plan for the species, we wish to be involved in everything that concerns the woodland caribou on our ancestral territories.