The Yukon is alive with fully functioning, healthy ecosystems. The landscape supports a diversity of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, caribou, moose, sheep, marmots and pileated woodpeckers. Eight tree species, including the white spruce and trembling aspen, and 38 species of freshwater fish, including the arctic grayling and inconnu, make their home here. The mighty Yukon River and its tributaries support one of the longest salmon runs in the world. While overall species diversity is not high, an unusual concentration of rare species is centered in the far north. The Yukon Territory has more vascular plants of global conservation concern than any jurisdiction in the country. These species have limited ranges tied to the areas of land which remained ice-free during glacial periods.
Although the Yukon territory supports a full range of native wildlife species, human developments in the form of roads, logging, mining and oil and gas projects and residential sprawl are impacting these fragile northern ecosystems and putting wildlife populations at risk. The Yukon Conservation Society strives to protect wildlife and critical habitat and, where development is permitted, encourage measures that mitigate impacts. YCS recognizes that trapping and hunting are culturally and recreationally important ways for people to sustain themselves and connect with the land. YCS supports humane, sustainable and responsible hunting and trapping in the territory.
YCS does this by engaging in management plan reviews conducted by Environment Canada, the Yukon Government, the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and the Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee. Through our regular submissions to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB), we bring attention to fish, wildlife and habitat that stand to be impacted by proposed development.
We promote appreciation and understanding of wildlife through educational programs including BioBlitz events, winter wildlife mammal tracking workshops and our guided hikes at Miles Canyon.
YCS has worked closely with the Friends of McIntyre Creek to protect the McIntyre Creek wildlife corridor in the City of Whitehorse from development. Wherever possible we partner with other organizations in our collaborative efforts to protect fish, wildlife and habitat. This includes WildWise, Trails Only Yukon Association and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Federal Environment Acts Consultations
Canada held consultations on the federal environmental assessment act (CEAA) and the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA).
YCS has made submissions to the CEAA and NWPA.
The Fisheries Act has been amended to reverse the destructive changes brought in by the previous government. The amendments restore protection of all fish and fish habitat. YCS provided input.
The regular review of the Kluane Park management plan is underway. YCS provided initial comments; a draft plan is expected in 2020.
You can participate in current and future Federal reviews here
All YCS submissions can be found at the bottom of the page under documents.
Changes to the Yukon Wildlife Act
The YWA is annually reviewed. YCS submits our comments on the proposed changes each year. Read the 2017 comments below.
The Yukon Government held a public review of a pesticide application permit by the WhitePass & Yukon Route railway (Lake Bennett into Carcross).
The DeAngelo Brothers Corporation applied for a permit to apply pesticides along the White Pass & Yukon Route railway (right of way) from Lake Bennett into Carcross. The proposed pesticides are Vantage, Hasten and Arsenal, which are potentially toxic to aquatic life, but are effective herbicide/weed control. Partly due to the concerns we raised, the permit was denied. YCS submmited comments - read them here in MS Word format or as Adobe PDF format.
Klaza Caribou Herd
The Yukon Government has done a range assessment that summarizes the current habitat and population status of the Klaza woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) herd in the Dawson Range of west-central Yukon. The Klaza herd, formerly known as the Klotassin herd, is one of 26 northern mountain herds recognized in the territory.
- Klaza Caribou Herd Range Assessment
- Appendix B: Future Land Use Scenario and Potential Levels of Human Disturbance
Key risk factors affecting the Klaza herd are described, and the factors representing the greatest risk to the herd’s long-term viability are identified. Both current and future potential human-caused (anthropogenic) and natural factors that may affect the herd and its habitat are considered. A future land use scenario and fire risk maps were used to examine anticipated levels of future human and natural disturbance. While it is not possible to predict exactly when or where future mineral development will occur, the mineral development scenario currently being contemplated for the Dawson Range (extension of the Freegold Road, development of the Casino mine, and potentially one or two other mines along the road corridor) would result in a large increase in the level of human disturbance on the winter range, a reduction in late-winter habitat effectiveness, and declining areas of undisturbed habitat. The major catalyst for increasing levels of all-season mineral development activity is anticipated to be construction of the Freegold Road extension, with the Hayes Creek – Selwyn River – Big Creek portion of the late-winter range being most at risk.
The Yukon Government is developing a Grizzly Bear Management Plan. Little is known about populations of grizzlies in much of the Yukon. Concerns centre on sustainable levels of harvest and the roadside killing of bears. YCS provided input, found below under documents.
Related News & Events
June 24, 2020
What is the outlook for the 2020 Yukon River Chinook salmon run?
October 9, 2018
Roads & Wildlife Impacts: Tues. Oct. 16, 7-9pm (doors open 6:30pm), Beringia Centre, Whitehorse
A free talk about making roads safer for Yukon wildlife and people.
May 22, 2020
May 22nd is International Day for Biological Diversity
Photo: DA Donnelly
June 8, 2020
Yukon River salmon, in particular Chinook reliably sustained people throughout the watershed of the Yukon River for countless generations. In recent years, the population of Chinook has collapsed to a shadow of its former glory.
This article points to overharvest as the most obvious cause of the collapse and advocates a purposeful and targeted harvest reduction as an approach to restoring Yukon River Chinook.
Image: Chinook Salmon, Adult Male
A free event in Whitehorse, Friday April 21 and Saturday April 22.