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Multiple caribou killed on ice road
Four caribou dead after charging into trucks on winter road servicing diamond mines north of Yellowknife

Cody Punter
Northern News Services
Published Friday, February 7, 2014

Four caribou have been been struck and killed by commercial vehicles on the Tibbitt to Contwoyto winter road since it opened last week.

The caribou were killed in two separate incidents, with the first occurring the day the road opened, Jan 30.

"We're very saddened and very upset this took place," said Ron Near, director of winter road operations for the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road Joint Venture.

Near said the first incident occurred when a driver leading a convoy of trucks carrying fuel onto Warburton Bay saw a group of caribou on the road just before midnight. The driver alerted those behind him and they proceeded to slow down, as per safety procedures. The caribou cleared out of the way - however, two of the animals "suddenly turned around and ran into a large truck," said Near.

He added the drivers of the trucks were travelling at the 25 km/hr speed limit before they began slowing down.

"In this case, the drivers did exactly what they were supposed to do," said Near.

Near added that none of the personnel involved in the incident were injured.

The second incident occurred on the Gahcho Kue road, between Munn and Margaret Lake the following day.

In that case a winter road construction vehicle was parked on the side of the road and two caribou charged at the truck, dying on impact.

The incident also occurred late at night, said Near.

"Right now we can't say what spooked the caribou," said Near.

Near said that in the first instance the carcasses of the caribou were carried off by packs of wolves, while wolves could be seen in the distance in the second one.

"They could have potentially been part of the reason," said Near.

Both incidents are currently being investigated by wildlife officers. Near said the company has very strict safety procedures in place, especially with regards to the protection of local wildlife.

"We're working very closely with ENR to prevent this from happening again," he said.

The winter road services Ekati, Diavik, Snap Lake and Gahcho Kue diamond mines.

Near said it was the first time caribou have been killed by commercial traffic on the winter road since 1999.

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