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Caribou have long been vital to the survival of Indigenous peoples in the north; the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis.

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Reasons for the drop in caribou populations are complicated. There is still some disagreement among scientific and Indigenous experts as to which factors are most important.


It is often said that forms of wildlife management are mostly not about managing the animals, but about managing people. Some Indigenous peoples find it disrespectful to even talk about managing caribou. In that spirit, this section is largely about managing human interventions that affect caribou.

Managing hunting

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Managing predators

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Range management

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News and resources

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This 11 page document is the agreement by the NWT management authorities responsible for the northern population of mountain caribou (woodland caribou in northern mountain habitat) to add the caribou as "a species of Special Concern" under the NWT Species at Risk Act. The report says that Indigenous knowledge indicates that the population is in decline and that "...northern mountain caribou have the potential to become Threatened if the effects of climate change continue within their habitat and localized threats are not managed effectively."

Usage: Non-commercial with attribution
Format: web

Managing huntingRange managementClimate changeHuman disturbanceHunting

caribou contaminant report 2020-21

This is a report that covers all of the results from a project to monitor contaminants in caribou. Some tests could not be done due to lack of lab capacity udirng the pandemic. The report concludes that: "Levels of most contaminants measured in caribou tissues are not of concern, although kidney mercury and cadmium concentrations may cause some concern for human health depending on the quantity of organs consumed. Caribou meat (muscle) does not accumulate high levels of contaminants and is a healthy food choice. Concentrations of PFASs and PBDEs are low with respect to potential toxicity to caribou or those consuming caribou. Adults consuming Sanikiluaq reindeer are recommended to consume a maximum of seven whole livers each year due to PFOS levels in those livers."    

Usage: Non-commercial with attribution
Format: pdf

PorcupineBeverly and QaminirjuaqBarren-groundBaffin IslandContaminants