Snowshoe Hare (Snowshoe Rabbit) (Lepus americanus) - "Ukalliq"
Shrew (Sorex tundrensis, Sorex ugyunak, Sorex monitolus) - "Ugruknaq"
Lemming (Lemmus sibiricus, Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) - "Avingnaq"
Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus, Microtus oeconomus, Myodes rutilus) - "Avingnaq"
Arctic Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus arryii) - "Sikrik"
Inuvialuit refer to rare albino lemmings and voles as “Qilakmiutaq”, meaning “one from heaven”.
Found in most regions of the northern Yukon.
Known to fluctuate.
Known to fluctuate.
Small mammals play key roles in both northern ecosystems. The cyclical rise and fall of their numbers reflect similar patterns in the population levels of their predators.
Varied according to species.
From 1988 to 1999 Inuvialuit harvest data was collected through the Inuvialuit Harvest Study. In the period from 1988 to 1997, the average annual harvest reported of snowshoe hare was 348, with an average of 12 hunters per year reporting some harvest of hares. Harvest of ground squirrels is unknown.
Each of these species can be entertaining to observe.
Destruction of habitat, and climate change.
General Status: All secure except Dicrostonyx groenlandicus and Sorex ugyunak, both of which are sensitive mainly because of their restricted range in the Yukon.
No ongoing, long-term monitoring in place on the Yukon North Slope. The Gwich’in Renewable Resource Board and the NWT Department of Resource, Wildlife and Economic Development (RWED), have been collecting population trend information on snowshoe hares around the Inuvik area. This is part of a Northwest Territories-wide study on snowshoe hare population changes. In the NWT, small mammal and hare surveys have been conducted each year at specific sites since 1990, with hares generally surveyed in late-spring, early-June. http://www.grrb.nt.ca/pdf/wildlife/hare/Hare_Study_2002update.pdf
Very little work has been done on the small mammals of the North Slope. A few mammal inventory projects have made collections of species, the most recent in 2005. As part of the International Polar Year (IPY), a new project is examining lemming and vole population dynamics on Herschel Island and the coastal plain. This information is important for monitoring environmental change in the area that may be occurring because of climate change.
In 2003, the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee undertook a project to record traditional knowledge of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope. The observations, comments and concerns expressed by Aklavik residents as part of this study were as follows:
Snowshoe Hare (Snowshoe Rabbit) (Lepus americanus) - Ukalliq
Shrews (Sorex tundrensis, Sorex ugyunak, Sorex monitolus) - Ugruknaq
Voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus, Microtus oeconomus, Myodes rutilus)- Avingnaq
Lemmings (Lemmus sibiricus, Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) - Avingnaq
Arctic ground squirrel (Spermophilus parryii)
Community-based information on small mammals may also be found in the reports of the annual community-based monitoring program conducted in Aklavik and neighbouring communities by the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. http://www.taiga.net/coop/community/index.html
An elder interviewed in 2008 described an area 30 miles down river from Aklavik, where the trees stop and the willows start, where rabbits are abundant. Years ago, one family harvested 600 rabbits in one weekend here. Missionaries used to buy rabbit meat from the Inuvialuit. Rabbits were and still are important to people as a source of meat, though numbers are down from 20 years ago.
Gordon, Danny C. Personal communication, Elder, Aklavik, NWT.
Joint Secretariat, 2003. Inuvialuit Harvest Study, Data and Methods Report 1988 - 1997. Inuvik, NT. http://www.fjmc.ca/publications/IHS.htm
Jung, T. 2007. Personal communication. Government of Yukon, Department of Environment.
Smits, C., B. Slough and C. Yasui. 1989. Summer food habits of sympatric Arctic foxes and red foxes in the northern Yukon Territory. Canadian Field Naturalist 103 (3):363-367.
Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee. 2003. Aklavik Inuvialuit describe the status of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope, March, 2003. Final Report. Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope), Whitehorse, Yukon.
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