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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-12

Impacts of reintroduced bison on first nations people in Yukon, Canada: Finding common ground through participatory research and social learning


1 School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
2 Heritage, Lands, and Resources Department, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, Yukon, Canada
3 Environment Yukon, Government of Yukon, Yukon, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Douglas A Clark
School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon
Canada
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.182798

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From 1988-1992 wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) were transplanted to the southwest Yukon, inadvertently creating concerns among local First Nations about their impacts on other wildlife, habitat, and their members' traditional livelihoods. To understand these concerns we conducted a participatory impact assessment based on a multistage analysis of existing and new qualitative data. We found wood bison had since become a valued food resource, though there was a socially-determined carrying capacity for this population. Study participants desire a population large enough to sustainably harvest but avoid crossing a threshold beyond which bison may alter the regional ecosystem. An alternative problem definition emerged that focuses on how wildlife and people alike are adapting to the observed long-term changes in climate and landscape; suggesting that a wider range of acceptable policy alternatives likely exists than may have previously been thought. Collective identification of this new problem definition indicates that this specific assessment acted as a social learning process in which the participants jointly discovered new perspectives on a problem at both individual and organisational levels. Subsequent regulatory changes, based on this research, demonstrate the efficacy of participatory impact assessment for ameliorating human-wildlife conflicts.


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