Prior to commencement of drilling, exploration companies should initiate discussions with potentially impacted Indigenous communities to discuss environmental and economic project impacts as well as impacts to valued heritage resources. In areas with high-value caribou habitat, caribou protection and proposed mitigations will likely be a topic of discussion. Many Indigenous communities may provide information about caribou population health, current and historical range use, and observations about caribou responses to previous projects. As the project becomes more advanced, it is important to engage with different members and organizations within the community such as Chief and Council, community land-use staff, Elders, and hunters and trappers, to obtain as much information about caribou as possible.
Proponents can prepare for early discussions by consulting a range of provincial and territorial materials documenting the location of caribou populations and high-value habitat, including provincial caribou recovery strategies, range plans, and best practices manuals.
If neither TEK, IQ, or desktop research reveals the presence of caribou or high-value habitat, there is no need to pursue caribou-specific project mitigations. However, if the project falls within or is expected to impact seasonal caribou ranges or migration routes, some degree of monitoring and mitigation will likely become necessary. The nature of the mitigations will be contingent upon the scale of the project and number and degree of anticipated impacts.
The following measures can be employed to avoid or mitigate impacts to caribou at the intermediate exploration stage:
Camp construction and operation
Exploration camps in the intermediate stage may damage
habitat, attract predators, and lead to caribou avoidance of
the area. Staff should:
- Where possible, build camp structures upon existing
- Predator-proof camps with locked waste containers
- Train camp staff to avoid caribou found in the vicinity of
the project and record and report any caribou sightings
- Restore cleared areas when drill pads are no longer
- Avoid unnecessary idling of drills
Overland hauling and logistics
Vehicular traffic on trails and small access roads during
intermediate exploration will likely be extremely limited and
the potential for collisions with caribou remote. However,
traffic along these routes can trigger caribou avoidance. In
areas containing high-value caribou habitat, staff should:
- Learn about caribou uses during sensitive seasons
- Where possible, limit traffic along these corridors in