In episode three of season five of the Canadian Mountain Podcast, join host Julie Patton and producer Noel Ormita for a conversation with Chief Roland Wilson and researcher Clayton Lamb about the Indigenous-led conservation of the Klinse-Za Caribou. Roland Wilson is Chief of the West Moberly First Nations and Clayton Lamb is a wildlife scientist with Biodiversity Pathways — an organization that uses data to inform decision-makers at all levels of government in Canada. Both are passionate about increasing the caribou population. In the face of near-extinction for the Klinse-Za Caribou herd in 2013 and the subsequent lack of response from the federal and provincial governments, the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations took decisive action. Recognizing the adverse consequences of the declining caribou population on both the environment and their way of life as outlined in Treaty 8, which guarantees their right to harvest caribou, these First Nations proactively addressed the situation. But with only 38 caribou remaining in this herd in 2013, the local Nations could not hunt without further endangering the population.
These restrictions are a direct infringement of Indigenous Treaty rights. Through the conservation efforts of the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations, the Klinse-Za caribou population increased to 101 individuals by 2021. Through predator reduction and maternal pens, these efforts will continue until the Klinse-Za population can grow consistently without external interference, and the local Indigenous Peoples can once again sustainably harvest caribou.