Environment - Access and Wildlife
The Casino project is located in the Yukon and Klondike Plateau ecoregions, which is dominated by Boreal Forest below 1,200 metres, and subalpine above 1,200 metres. The project area is largely unglaciated with rounded, rolling hills, steep valleys and sparsely vegetated alpine tundra hill tops. A common and unique feature of the landscape is the tors (rock outcroppings left behind by weathering) found along ridge tops.
The landscape around the proposed mine site, located in the Yukon and Klondike Plateau ecoregions, is populated with moose and woodland caribou. These animals play an integral role in the culture of the region, providing sustenance and resource opportunities for some residents.
The Project occurs within the historic range of the Forty Mile caribou and the current range of the Klaza caribou herd. The primary concern for the caribou is the availability of suitable late-winter habitat. The moose population is considered low in this region, but these animals remain the primary harvest species for resident hunters. Concerns expressed by resource managers include the potential increased access via the Freegold Road extension for harvest of caribou, moose and other terrestrial wildlife.
Other wildlife in the region include Dall’s sheep, wood bison, grizzly bear, black bear, wolves, wolverine, lynx, marten, coyote, and red fox. Also, small mammals such as porcupine, snowshoe hare, red squirrel, mink, muskrat, otter, weasel, beaver and collared pika.
Bird species in the area include raptors, such as peregrine falcon, golden eagle and gyrfalcon, waterfowl and other waterbirds, and upland bird species including grouse, ptarmigan, kingfisher, woodpeckers and songbirds.
CMC has established a Wildlife Mitigation and Monitoring Plan and a Road Use Plan to mitigate for and monitor effects of the project on wildlife. The plans will be adaptive to allow for input from stakeholders, and will include details such as:
- Traffic management planning to avoid potential effects to wildlife;
- Strictly controlled, gated, and monitored access road;
- A no hunting policy;
- Detailed mitigations during construction, operations and closure; and
- On-going wildlife monitoring programs and support of regional wildlife studies.
It is the company’s intention that the Selkirk First Nation, Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, Yukon Government, and wildlife management bodies are actively involved in the ongoing access and wildlife management of the Casino Road. Other First Nations and stakeholders will also continue to be involved through a Wildlife Working Group.