How is it decided an animal is endangered?

Caribou
Barren-ground caribou have been in serious decline in the NWT since the 1980s. (Supplied by ENR.)
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How is it decided an animal is endangered?

Normally, it is done by referring to biological surveys.

This reliance on Western science is the norm, according to Leon Andrew, the Chair of the Northwest Territories Species at Risk Committee.

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But that’s set to change in the Northwest Territories.

Indigenous knowledge is set to be included in assessments in Species at Risk assessments in the NWT.

The move has been an effort by Andrews and deputy chair Suzanne Carrière to change how decisions about what animals earn protected status, are made.

“In the end, it’s gives you basically your two eyes as opposed to just one eye, or your two legs as opposed to just one leg to determine whether a species is at risk or not.”

Suzanne Carrière, deputy chair

Andrew, who is Dene, says the inclusion of traditional knowledge will be invaluable.

“People living off the land, they know about their own territories, and what they do. And they can choose their criteria, the information they know, What they can share, there’ll be this strength added to the search team.

Leon Andrew, Chair of the Northwest Territories Species at Risk Committee

Both Andrew and Carriere touted the innovation of this work, and said they hope people outside the NWT will pick it up.

“It’s just that the way that we use it at the in the Northwest Territories, all the way to a brand new set of criteria that is respectful of indigenous knowledge is unique. And so there has been interest within the Northwest Territories so far, and we’re hoping that there will be interest in the broader world.”

Suzanne Carrière, deputy chair

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