All project partners are committed to ensuring that the development of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway does not adversely affect the wildlife of the region. The Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula supports a wide variety of wildlife. Approximately 23 species of land mammals make their home in the region of the highway project. Their abundance and distribution varies considerably, depending on the terrain and other circumstances.
Approximately 137 bird species have been recorded in the region of the Mackenzie Delta and Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula. Most of these bird species are migrants; however, 17 are year-round residents, 101 nest and/or moult and remain during the summer and 19 are rare transients or visitors. A further 39 species have been reported, but not confirmed.
Developments such as roads may affect wildlife to varying degrees, depending on the species. There are generally six types of possible effects: individual disruption, social disruption, habitat avoidance, habitat disruption or enhancement, direct and indirect mortality, and population effects. Department of Transportation studies have determined that during the construction of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway, minimal habitat will be directly altered; however, indirect effects from hunting and trapping or increased predation by carnivores, or direct effects from wildlife-vehicle collisions may occur.
The proposed Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway will cross numerous ephemeral and permanent streams, and come near many lakes along its route. It is therefore important to identify the fish and fish habitat that these water bodies sustain to develop strategies designed to protect fish populations. Fish are ecologically important, and socially and economically valuable to northern residents. The DOT has identified the species that may be affected by highway construction and operation.
Generally, fish surveys identified the following species as possibly using habitats along the route: lake whitefish, round whitefish, inconnu, northern pike, Arctic grayling, lake trout, burbot, least cisco, ninespine stickleback, and sculpin. It is unlikely that any of the streams along the highway route would provide overwintering habitat due to complete freezing.