Omingmak (Muskox)

Muskox are one of the oldest surviving herbivores on the planet. While they have historically existed on the Yukon North Slope since the last ice age, they disappeared in the mid-1800s, likely due to increased hunting pressure that came with a surge in Arctic visitors around that time. However, after a successful reintroduction a hundred years later, muskox are once again a part of the Yukon North Slope landscape, with a few hundred animals distributed in small groups across the region.


Watch our short animation to learn more about the story of muskox on Yukon's North Slope!

 

Omingmak and Inuvialuit

For Inuvialuit, muskox represent an important hunting resource, in addition to caribou. These large herbivores have been spotted by hunters and other land users all over the Yukon North Slope, from tundra habitat to coastal plains. While muskox are not migratory in the same way has Porcupine caribou, they do move between different types of habitat depending on food, weather, and time of year.

A Shared Landscape

Humans aren't the only ones that interact with muskox. In fact, Inuvialuit have observed that good muskox habitat can also be good caribou habitat. 

Exploring the relationship between caribou and muskox is one of our Council's priorities, including how these two species may affect each other's ranges. Check out out infographic to learn more!

Infographic

Grizzlies and Muskox

Grizzly bears have also noticed the return of muskox and, according to Inuvialuit Traditional Knowledge, have been increasingly following herds. This has been particularly prevalent in spring time, when muskox have more vulnerable young ones. 

Our Council is working to better understand the population dynamics of Yukon North Slope muskox - part of this puzzle is determining the role of predators, like grizzly bears, in muskox survival.

Muskox Podcast Episode

Have a listen to our most recent podcast, which addresses the making of a plan for muskox.

Muskox Management on the North Slope

Our Council has been collaborating with a number of partners to create a framework to support the management of Yukon North Slope muskox. This work is guided by the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.

"The management of the wildlife populations and habitat to ensure the maintenance of the quality, including the long-term optimum productivity, of these resources and to ensure the efficient utilization of the available harvest." - Inuvialuit Final Agreement

There are three main goals established under this framework:

  1. Provide opportunities for Inuvialuit hunters to harvest muskoxen, while maintaining a healthy, productive, and sustainable population.
  2. Minimize any detrimental effects that muskoxen may have on caribou and caribou habitat and harvesting.
  3. Cooperate and share information about muskoxen among users to develop and implement management and research programs.

Further, in order to support the management framework and to make sound decisions about muskox, we have also been working to develop a research plan for the next five years, addressing key knowledge gaps and questions, including those raised by Inuvialuit. 

Check out the Muskox Management Framework here.

Muskox Resources

Explore our Resource Library for more information on Omingmak!