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Hunting in Yukon
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About the Department
Maps & GIS Data
- Testing Yukon Wildlife
- Testing Porcupine Caribou Herd
- Wanted: Samples
- Wanted: Yukon Bear kill locations & hide samples
- Recommendations for Consumption
- How to Collect Biological Samples
- Contact Us
Northern Contaminant Program: Testing Yukon Wildlife
For many years the Northern Contaminant Program monitored contaminant levels in Yukon moose and caribou. The major conclusions:
- Mammals, birds, and plants in Yukon are largely free from contamination.
- Some animals have elevated levels of cadmium in their organs.
- Cadmium levels in Yukon moose and caribou appear to be stable over time.
- Mercury fluctuates over time in caribou organs, but over the long term is remaining stable in the Porcupine Caribou Herd
As a result of these studies, the Northern Contaminant Program determined that contaminant levels in Yukon moose and woodland caribou did not warrant further testing. The NCP will focus research on those areas where there are greater contaminant concerns, or where research can help us understand how contaminants act in the environment.
The Northern Contaminant Program is now accepting biological samples (kidney, liver, muscle and tooth) from the Porcupine Caribou Herd only.
The Northern Contaminant Program has been measuring mercury in this herd every year since 1994, and we see that levels cycle up and down over the years. Although levels of mercury are not high enough to cause concern for the caribou (or those eating caribou meat), continuing to monitor them will help us to understand what is driving that cycle up and down. This, in turn, will help researchers understand how mercury moves around in the Arctic, and may even allow predictions of how things like climate change may affect mercury in caribou and other Arctic wildlife.
If you have a successful Porcupine caribou hunt this season, please deliver the following
samples to the nearest Environment Yukon office.
- kidney (whole)
- liver (about 0.5 kg)
- muscle tissue (about 0.5 kg)
- incisor bar (front teeth)
Each sample should be put in a clean plastic bag and frozen as soon as possible. This is a request for assistance only, not a legal requirement. The results of this study will be summarized in future Hunting Regulations Summaries.
Contribute to contaminant knowledge
Although we will no longer be offering a draw for a free flight, your sample donations will be gratefully received and will be valuable additions to the contaminants program, allowing us to track contaminant trends in this important northern resource.
Environment Yukon needs your help! Samples from hunted animals help us monitor the health of moose, caribou, bison, sheep, mountain goat, deer and elk. Samples are requested for disease testing from moose, caribou, bison, sheep, mountain goat, deer and elk. Sample kits are available from any Environment Yukon office before hunting season opens and should be returned as soon as possible after the hunt. Hunters are asked to submit samples of fecal matter from their kills, and are welcome to submit any tissues that appear abnormal for an assessment. Parasites found on a carcass should also be submitted for identification.
We are especially interested in hydatid parasite cysts that can occur in the lung or liver of moose, caribou, deer, or elk, and we encourage hunters to submit the entire lung and liver from these species to the laboratory this year. These samples will assist the department in establishing baseline information and monitoring changes in the health of hunted wildlife.
If you’re interested in participating, please contact the Laboratory Coordinator at (867) 667-5285.
Because bear research is extremely expensive, information on bear populations throughout Yukon is sparse. Environment Yukon is trying to obtain information on grizzly bears and black bears in a cost-effective manner, and hunters can help tremendously.
If you hunt with a GPS unit, please record the location of your kill site and bring that location in to an Environment Yukon office. A wildlife technician will map the location on a database and ask to take a small sample of hide.
Having a very precise location of where a bear was killed (within a hundred meters of the kill location) and a small piece of hide with the hair (1 square inch) can go a long way to telling us how healthy a population is. The location ties the biological information of the bear to a precise place and habitat. The hide and hair sample can be used for DNA, to get information about diet (isotopes), and to tell the stress levels of the bear.
Information collected through this process will help direct harvest away from areas with declining populations and toward areas with healthy populations.
These recommendations are based on eating these amounts every year. If you don’t eat any this year, you can eat twice as much next year and remain within the recommended limits.
- Caribou and moose meat are very nutritious, and there is no limit on the amount of meat (muscle) recommended for consumption.
- Health Canada has issued recommendations for consumption of organ meats based on concentrations of metals found in some Yukon wildlife. The recommendations vary with the type of animal and the herd. For caribou, the recommendation ranges from a maximum of 7-32 kidneys/person/year, or 4-16 livers/person/year. The recommended limit for moose liver or kidney is 1/person/
- Tobacco contains much higher levels of cadmium than animal sources. Reducing or eliminating smoking is the most effective way of limiting cadmium intake.
For more information about contaminants in wildlife, please contact your local Environment Yukon office or the Yukon Contaminant Committee at (867) 667-3283.
The Arctic Caribou and Moose Contaminants Program has produced a short video that shows how to collect biological samples and explains how the information is used. This video was developed as part of the Northern Contaminants Program.
Contact the Yukon Contaminants Committee