Carcross/Tagish land guardians step up efforts to protect nesting birds, spring lambs
In many parts of the Yukon, spring is a time when sheep are rearing their young. It's also a crucial and precarious time for migratory birds and their brood.
That's why the Carcross/Tagish First Nation is concerned about the growing number of people enjoying the back country, and is stepping up efforts to remind people to stay clear of some areas at this time of year. That includes popular hikes through Caribou Mountain, Needle Mountain and Mount White.
Danny Cresswell is the First Nation's field operations manager and a land guardian. He's urging people to try and understand things from the perspective of the wildlife.
"Imagine a whole bunch of people having a party going into the hospital while you're holding on to your newborn baby," he said.
"[The animals] have a hard enough time surviving because the winters are pretty darn tough, and they need every ounce of fat they can get to make it through the winter."
Adam Winters is also a land guardian and citizen of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation. He says the issue is becoming more urgent with more hikers, ATVs, and tourists out on the land.
"One of the big issues is that birds come to feed on the shallow waters and at the same time you get these people who enjoy the mud-bogging effects of the low water," Winters said.
Land guardians work in tandem with government conservation efforts to protect the habitat of birds and animals. For Cresswell, it's also about preserving a way of life on settlement land.
"To protect it so that we can pass it on to our kids," he explained.
"I've got grandkids and they're all hunters. They all like fishing and they all camp. I mean, it's just something that gets passed on and it grows in you. This is our life. This is our home."
For Cresswell and Winters, it's also about preserving the delicate balance between hunting for food and ceremony, and being stewards of the land for the next generation.
"We didn't just hunt all the animals just for the food," said Cresswell.
"We use the skin, we use all the different furs. Even the bones become the tools. It's an amazing cycle because there's nothing left when we're done with an animal."
People are asked to keep off of the trails until at least June 15 to reduce pressure on the animals during this time for population growth. Those hiking trails include Caribou, Nares and Needle Mountains, Mount White, Mount Perkins and Pooly Canyon.
Elsewhere in the Yukon, Parks Canada is also reminding people not to hike the Thechàl Dhâl' ridge route from now until June 15 to protect the Dall sheep in Kluane National Park and Reserve during lambing season. They also ask hikers to stay off the south face of the mountain throughout the year.