An Oklahoma student who got his master’s degree at UBC Okanagan recently earned a Micas Award to work on addressing caribou recovery and habitat protection.
Supported by Mitacs, a government-funded organization that supports growth and innovation in Canada by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions, Mateen Hessami in April brought together Splatsin elders, council members and community hunters together with federal and provincial government caribou experts, conservation officers and academics during a three-day workshop.
“The Splatsin are leaders in caribou recovery, so it’s important that their voice is heard at the table,” said Hessami, who is a tribal member of Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma. “We are partners in the Splatsin’s desire to restore a culturally significant species—the caribou—but first we need to document their perspective and future vision, ensure the Splatsin community can access and learn from this information while also relaying some of this important information to decision makers.”
Hessami, who now works full-time for Kelowna’s Biodiversity Pathways research institute, said the workshop identified habitat as a top priority, and the Splatsin are now part of a working group lobbying for habitat protection of the Revelstoke complex caribou herd.
Some participants also indicated that harvesting moose populations in the Revelstoke complex area is important to protect caribou because moose attract wolves and wolves prey on caribou, but that many community hunters lack the financial resources to travel the distance required to reach these moose populations. As a result, the Splatsin and Biodiversity Pathways have identified an opportunity to apply for a grant to fund a moose hunting initiative.
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