AhiakBaffin IslandBathurstBeverly and QaminirjuaqBluenose EastBluenose WestBoothia PenninsulaCape BathurstCoats IslandLorillardPorcupineSouthampton IslandTuk PeninsulaWager BayFortymile

Barren-ground caribou are larger in size than the Dolphin and Union and Peary caribou. The average bull (male caribou) weighs in at 100 to 140 kg (220 to 309 lb). Females weigh less. In summer they eat grassy plants, shrubs and mushrooms, and in winter they mostly eat lichens. 

These caribou are mostly migratory, often forming large herds that can number in the hundreds of thousands. They migrate twice a year, moving to calving grounds on the treeless tundra near the coast in springtime, and back towards the treeline in the fall. The top two herds (the Bathurst and Porcupine herds) travel about 1,350 kilometers (as the crow flies) between their summer and winter ranges. When migrating, they walk at about 7 km/hr, covering between 20 and 65 km a day. Smaller herds that are less migratory also exist. Some of these are found on islands such as Southampton Island and Coats Island, two large islands in the northern part of Hudson Bay.

The largest herd in Canada currently is likely the Qamanirjuaq herd that ranges between Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, northern Manitoba and Saskakatchewan. It was estimated to number 288,000 animals in 2017. Overall, the numbers of barren ground caribou are declining. The Bathurst herd that currently ranges between the NWT and Nunavut may have fallen the furthest from a high of 472,000 in 1986, to an estimated 8,200 in 2018 

Government of the Northwest Territories
Government of the Northwest Territories

That’s a decrease of more than 98%. Two populations appear to be bucking the trend of general decline. The Porcupine caribou herd was at a record high of 218,000 in 2017.

The causes of the declines are discussed in more depth in the “threats” section and may be different for different herds, but there is a significant opinion that development of mining and infrastructure (particularly roads) within the range of some of the herds facing the steepest declines is a contributing factor. Hunting pressure and predation are other significant factors identified. As the NWT Species at Risk assessment for Barren-ground caribou notes, “Most barren-ground caribou herds are now at low points in their abundance and they are facing cumulative effects from multiple interacting threats that are unprecedented.”

The steep decline of some of these herds has led to a moratorium on hunting some of the declining herds. For instance, in 2015 the NWT government created a Mobile Core Bathurst Caribou Conservation Area in which no caribou hunting is allowed. The moratorium on hunting has caused hardships to local people who are heavily dependent on the caribou for food, and are forced to buy often expensive (and relatively unsatisfying) food from local stores instead. In addition to the costs of the replacement food, the lack of caribou in the diets of Indigenous people can also lead to spiritual and cultural impacts.

Related news

Notes from the Trail: Caribou herds cannot withstand many more acts of senseless violence

This opinion piece argues for ending public access to a winter road north of Yellowknife, due to its use by people hunting caribou. According to reports, remains of a dozen or more caribou were found recently along the mining access road, and there was much meat wastage.
8 March 2024 | NNSL

Are Baffin Island’s caribou numbers growing? Researchers plan to find out

A new count of Baffin Island caribou is to be carried out this year. The aerial survey will look to confirm anecdotal reports and smaller surveys indicating that the herd on the island is growing. The last major survey of the herd in 2014 indicated that ti had shrunk dramatically to about 4,600.
4 March 2024 | Nunatsiaq News

The Double-Edged Sword of Genetic Diversity in Caribou

A study of caribou genetics finds that "caribou maintain a high level of genetic diversity". This could be both a good thing and a bad thing. Genetic diversity can help species adapt. But when population numbers are low, genes that might harm a herd's ability to survive can become more common in a population. 
29 February 2024 | trent university

Colville Lake declines to share caribou information with GNWT

Hearings wre held in the Sahtu region of the Nothwest Territories to discuss the impacts of wildfire on caribou. One First Nation declined to share information at the session, noting that elders have warned against publicly discussing things beyond their control such as caribou and weather. A manager of environmental assessment and habitat with the territorial government told the meeting, "Loss of habitat from wildfires has been identified as a main threat to barren-ground caribou."
26 February 2024 | Cabin Radio

GN closes Baffin Island caribou harvest

Brief news story announcing the closure of Baffin Island caribou harvest for the year. The annual harvest is capped at 400 animals.
13 February 2024 | Nunatsiaq News

Oil field road traffic disrupts North Slope caribou more than previously recognized

Acording to this news article, a new study has found that the threshold for traffic to disturb caribou is lower than previously thought. The article says five vehicles per hour is enough to distrub caribou near the road. The prvious generally accepted figure was 15 vehicles per hour. The study foused on the Central Arctic Caribour Herd in Alaska
17 January 2024 | Alaska Public Media

Caribou Management in Alaska

An Alaska public radio call-in program on the subject of caribou management, including climate change impacts and harvest levels. The program runs just under an hour. Not Canadian, but discussing similar issues.
10 January 2024 | Alaska Public Media

Taking a Bite Out of Caribou Herds

An article written by a researcher looking into the factors affecting the decline of barren ground caribou, particularly the Bathurst herd. The researcher is a member of the "Kutz lab" team that has been working alongside Indigenous communities in the Northwest Territories to investigate causes of the decline, and monitor caribou health. "In the coming year, we are initiating a new project for Central Canadian barren-ground caribou to see whether Indigenous knowledge of caribou health, coupled with harvester-based sampling and local field observations, can anticipate population shifts for proactive management."
14 December 2023 | fair chase magazine

For the Gwich’in People, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Isn’t a Political Issue, It’s Home

A brief magazine article focusing on the importance of the Porcupine caribou herd to Gwich'in people. The article is written in the context of continuing pressure to open up a part of the herd's Alaskan calving grounds to oil and gas exploration and development.
7 December 2023 | Smithsonian Magazine

All-season road between Tibbitt Lake and Lockhart Lake moves forward despite dwindling diamonds

The government of the Northwest Territories plans to proceed with an all season road that pushes into a mineral-rich region north of Yellowknife. There are concerns the road would imperil already-declining caribou herds, especially the endangered Bathurst herd. An environmental review of development in the region is pending.
1 December 2023 | CBC North

Caribou numbers will decline as long as Nunavut goes without land use plan says former premier

This story talks about the impacts on caribou from the lack of a land use plan for Nunavut. The plan, which has been in preparation for many years, was submitted to governments and Nunvut Tunngavik Incorporated (the Nunavut land claims organization) earlier this year. Former premier Paul Okalik blames the absence of a plan for the encroachment of mining companies on caribou calving grounds, and subsequent threats to caribou populations.
30 November 2023 | APTN

Review board recommends against Meliadine mine extension

The projet review board for Nunavut has recommended against the expansion of a gold mine north of Rankin Inlet. The Nunavut Impact Review Board says impacts of the expansion pose a risk to the Qamanirjuaq caribou herd. The board's recommendation goes to the federal Minister of Nortern Affairs for a final decision.
22 November 2023 | Nunatsiaq News

Where Are All the Caribou?

A magazine length story talking about the general decline of barren-ground caribou and the impacts of that deline on local people. The story includes a focus on the Bathurst Caribou herd, the Western Arctic herd in Alaska, and a mention of the Porcupine herd. The story mentions various possible factors in the decline with making any conclusions.
20 November 2023 | National geographic

Barren-ground caribou shouldn’t be listed as threatened: GN

The Government of Nunavut says it will not support caribou being listed as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act. Consultations on the listing are currently underway. The Nunavut Wildlife Management Board is on record supporting the listing. 
13 November 2023 | Nunatsiaq news

GNWT issues appeal over caribou harvesting near Inuvik-Tuk Highway

A brief story about reported illegal harvesting of caribou near the highway linking Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories.
8 November 2023 | Cabin Radio

Agnico Eagle now complying with caribou order for Meadowbank, feds say

A mine north of Baker Lake in Nunavut has agreed to change some aspects of how it monitors and responds to caribou near the mine. Earlier in 2023, the Meadowbank Mine, owned by Agnico Eagle had been ordered by the federal government to comply with its permits relating to when and how it ceases operations on mining roads when caribou are present. The news story quotes a government document stating that the government is now satisfied with the mine owner's compliance with the earlier order.
5 October 2023 | CBC North

Caribou concerns dominate hearing on Nunavut mine extension

Public hearings about proposed extensions of a gold mining project near Rankin Inlet have heard fears about the potential impacts on caribou. A proposed wind farm is of particular concern, as local people say it is close to calving grounds.
20 September 2023 | CBC

Final hearing on future of Meliadine gold mine begins in Rankin Inlet

A proposal to extend the life of a gold mine near Rankin Inlet in Nunavut has raised concerns about the project's impact on caribou. The Meliadine mine proposal is being reviewed by the Nunavut Impact Review Board. One concern raised by the local Inuit association regards the impacts of a proposed wind farm at the mine. The Kivalliq Inuit Association says, "The impacts of wind turbines on barren ground caribou herds have not been studied in enough depth to truly understand the potential impacts...".
12 September 2023 | CBC

Gwich'in celebrate cancellation of oil exploration leases in Alaska's Arctic refuge Social Sharing

The US government administration annouced it is cancelling oil exploration leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an area that includes the breeding grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd. The herd migrate between Canada and Alaska. Gwich'in leaders say they will continue to push for eglislation to make the area permanently off-limits for oil and gas development. The decision was not poppular with Alaskan politicans and an organization representing the Iñupiat.
8 September 2023 | CBC

Iqaluit’s caribou harvest for 2023-24 is closed, GN announces

A brief story noting that the community of Iqaluit (capital nad largest community in Nunavut) has reached its caribou hunting quota of 74 animals for the year, and no more caribou hunting will be permitted for the Baffin Island community. The last population estimate for the Baffin herd in 2014 put the number at 4,652. 
21 August 2023 | Nunatsiaq news

OPINION: Alaska’s game management goals for Mulchatna caribou are unrealistic

This is another perpsepctive on the decision by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to undertake large-scale predator control on the range of a migratory caibou herd. The department shot 94 brown bears, along with a few black bears and wolves this spring. While this is not a herd that ranges into Canada, it is an interesting discussion of various aspects of caribou management, including the efficacy of predator control, and the setting of appropriate targets for herd size. 
16 August 2023 | Anchorage Daily News

Federal judge upholds pause on pre-development oil work in Arctic refuge

A news story about a judge's order to halt oil and gas survey work in the Alaskan National Widlife Refuge. The refuge contains the calving area of th Porcupine caribou herd. The state of Alaska and some of its agencies have leases in the refuge that would have permitted the first stages of development. The ruling means those who wish to undertake the oil and gas development work must "...await the results of a new environmental assessment expected later this year." The story notes that,"The federal government is expected to deliver a revised environmental impact statement by the end of September, and that could lead to a decision that changes, confirms or voids the ANWR development program altogether."
11 August 2023 | Alaska Beacon

Nunavut Planning Commission submits territory-wide land use plan for approval

A plan to guide development and conservation in Nunavut has been publicly released. To be finalized, the plan must be approved by the governments of Canada and Nunavut, and by the Inuit organization that administers the Nunavut land Claim, Nunvut Tunggavik Incorporated. A spokesperson for conservation organization WWF says the plan's protections for caribou calving grouds are a sign of progress, but he's concerned that those protections could be over-ridden by other elements of the plan.  
23 June 2023 | CBC North

Feds say Agnico Eagle has failed to protect caribou at Nunavut gold mine as promised

The federal government says a company operating a gold mine near Baker Lake in Nunavut is failling to comply with promises to close roads when migrating caribou are close by. In an oficial document, a government representative has ordered the company to "...comply with its permits to operate or face potential penalties."
16 June 2023 | CBC north

Baffin caribou harvest now closed, says Environment Department

A brief story about the end of the caribou season on Baffin Island. The Nunavut territorial government set a quota of 350 animals per year on the island herd.
1 May 2023 | Nunatsiaq news

Rankin Inlet HTO enacts temporary ban on hunting caribou for selling

The hunters and trappers organization (HTO) in Rankin Inlet has banned local hunters from selling caribou meat during the calving season. The article says that hunters can still hunt for their own consumption, but there are concerns about the impact of caribou sales. 
27 April 2023 | Nunatsiaq news

Mining, climate change decimates the Bathurst caribou herd in N.W.T.

Both a web story and video (3'37"), with different content. The web story concentrates more on the decline of the Bathurst Caribou herd in NWT/Nunavut, and the efforts made by local Tłı̨chǫ people to monitor the caribou and the hunting of the caribou. The video covers some of the same ground but focuses more on the efforts to amass Tłı̨chǫ knowledge around the caribou and caribou hunting. 
13 April 2023 | APTN

Nunavut flips stance on caribou protection again, now supports development ban on calving grounds

The Government of Nunavut made a submission to the Nunavut Land Use Plan in which it supports banning mining development in caribou calving grounds, and taking measures to seasonally limit industrial activity in other areas important to caribou. The story notes that the government is not backing proposals by some Inuit organizations to impose mobile caribou protection measures, such as those used in the Northwest Territories to limit hunting of the Bathurst caribou herd.
11 April 2023 | cbc north

Ancient antlers show caribou calving grounds persist over millennia

A report on a study done in the calving range of the Porcupine caribou herd has looked at antlers shed after calving for evidence of how long the area has been used by the herd. A few antlers were found that were hundreds or even thousands of years old. This suggests that not only has the herd been using the area for that long, but also that it has used it through changing climatic conditions.
23 February 2023 | cabin radio

Network of guardians working to protect Bathurst caribou

A story about how Indigenous guardian programs are coming together to help conserve the decimated Bathurst Caribou herd that ranges between the NWT and Nunavut. Particpants hope that insights from the different guardian programs will help the herd recover.
27 January 2023 | Cabin Radio

Fort McPherson, N.W.T., to host summit on Porcupine caribou herd next week

A story about a gathering of Gwich'in people in the Northwest Territories to discuss the state of the Porcupine caribou herd. The herd is one of the few barren-ground caribou herds that has not experienced declines recently, though the article does raise concerns about over-harvesting and meat wastage.
20 January 2023 | cbc north

Climate change seen as suspected factor in Western Arctic Caribou Herd decline

The news story is about a drop in one of North Americ'a's largest caribou herds. Alaska’s Western Arctic herd population is 164,000 down from a high of nearly 500,000 in 2003. The article cites climate change and industrial developent as two potential causes for the drop in numbers. The lichen available to caribou has dropped markedly in recent years, and nany caribou refuse to cross a road connecting a lead zinc mine to the coast.
2 January 2023 | alaska beacon

The (re)naming of caribou

This magazine article (based on a paper by the same author) suggests that dividing caribou into more subspecies would help to recognize and conserve their biodiversity.
19 December 2022 | Canadian Geographic

Caribou management board focused on a number of challenges after most recent meetings

A report of the recent meeting of the Beverly Qaminirjuq Caribou Management Board. Amongst other issues the board discussed was the difficulty experienced by some communities in accessing the caribou. A northwards move by the caribou has meant very long travel for some hunters in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
1 December 2022 | Missinipi Broadcasting Corporation

QIA says Nunavut land-use plan doesn’t go far enough to protect caribou

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association (the organization that holds land rights for Inuit in the Baffin region of Nunavut) is urging more prtoections for caribou in the Nunavut Land Use Plan. The land use plan is in its final hearing stage. The plan has been under development for several years and will influence the future of development in the territory. 
18 November 2022 | Nunatsiaq news

Necessity of gov't quota on caribou harvesting debated at final day of Colville Lake hearing

A story outlining arguments on the final day of a court case brought to determine who sets caribou conservation rules for harvesting caribou from the Bluenose West herd in the Northwest Territories. The Small Dene community of Colville Lake is arguing rules developed by the community should take precedence, while the government insists that its approach that includes harvest limits should be applied.
14 November 2022 | CBC north

Colville Lake caribou court challenge begins in N.W.T.

A First Nation in the Sahtu region of the NWT is taking the NWT government to court over the question of rights to apply its own caribou conservation plan rather than the plan applied by the territorial government. The Behdzi Ahda First Nation in Colville Lake argues that a quota ssytem for the Bluenose West caribou herd should be set aside on the First Nation territory, and its own community conservation plan should take precedence. The Sahtu Renewable Resources Board is supporting the community's position, while the Inuvialuit Game Council supports the territorial government position.
10 November 2022 | cbc north

GN calls for federal investigation into Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank mine

The Government of Nunavut is asking the federal government to investigate what it says is a mining company's failure to follow caribou conservation measures. The Meadowbank Gold Mine, north of Baker Lake in Nunavut, is supposed to close raods when groups of caribou are in the vicinity. In a letter, a Nunavut government representative says this is the fourth year that there is evidence that the comany has not followed the rules on raod closures.
3 November 2022 | Nunatsiaq news

Diamond mine proposal draws concerns for wildlife, environment

Caribou calving areas on the south of Baffin Island (Nunavut) could be affected by a proposed diamond mine in the area. The DeBeers mine could open as soon as 2026 if granted regulatory approval. The number of caribou on the island has shrunk by an estimated 95% since highs in the 1990s..
14 October 2022 | Nunatsiaq News

Critics get their time at Nunavut land use planning hearings

A story about the hearings into the Nunavut Land Use Plan. Some speakers at hte hearings drew attention to the importance of the plan to caribou herds, and asked for more such protections before hte plan is finally adopted.
27 September 2022 | cbc north

NWT opens another illegal caribou harvest investigation

A news story about investigations into potential illegal hunting of Bathurst caribou in the Northwest Territories. The herd has shrunk by 98% from its highest levels. The territorial government instituted a mobile zone within which the caribou should not be killed to protect the remainder of the herd. The remains of caribou hunted within this zone were reportedly found by conservation staff.
19 September 2022 | Cabin Radio

Commission releases new version of Dawson land use plan

A news story about the release of a draft land use plan to be managed by the Yukon and Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin First Nation governments. The draft plan includes withdrawing a corridor used by the Fortymile caribou herd from use for quartz mining. The plan covers just under 40 thousand saquare kilometres in the Dawson region. 
13 September 2022 | cbc north


The article by two prominent Canadian caribou biologists raises the issue of caribou migration memories. They suggest that caribou migrations are learned behaviour, and that in some herds where numbers have dropped very low, there may be insuffucient collective memory to sustain traditional migration routes.
16 August 2022 | The Circle (WWF)

Increase in caribou harvest for Baffin region to continue for next 8 years

The Nunavut government has approved a plan to increase the number of Baffin Island caribou that can be killed. The hunting quota for the caribou goes up by 100 this year (from 250 to 350) then continues to increase by 50 per year "for the next eight years or until new information becomes available requiring changes". The quota increase is based on an assumption that the caribou will otherwise outstrip the recovery of lichen, a major food source for the caribou.
25 July 2022 | cbc north

Qamanirjuaq caribou are adapting to earlier spring, but that might not stop their decline

A magazine article about research on the Qamanirjuaq herd, showing that the herd is starting its migration earlier and giving birth earlier, likely in response to climate change. The warming climate in the caribou range is leading to earlier greening on the caribou's summer range. The article also mentions concerns about the private sales of meat from the herd.
11 July 2022 | Canadian Geographic

Proposed Meliadine mine extension to be assessed

A mining company is proposing an expansion to its gold mine north of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. The Agnico Eagle proposal would add wind turbines and an airstrip to the mine. Some local Inuit organization fear the impact on caribou migrations. The proposal is being reviewed by the Nunavut Impact Review Board.
5 July 2022 | Nunatsiaq news

Baffin wildlife board makes case for increasing caribou harvest

 A wildlife board representing Inuit in Northeast Nunavut (Qikiqtaaluk Wildlife Board) wants to see an increase in caribou quotas on Baffin Island. The number of caribou on Baffin Island has shrunk drastically in recent years. Local Inuit say the caribou are now increasing, and Inuit knowledge tells them the herds will outstrip the available forage if more are not taken. Meanwhile, Inuit in the northwest of Nunavut want to see the Dolphin and Union herd move from "special concern" to "endangered" under the federal species at risk legislation. That herd was estimated to number about 4,000 in 2018.
17 June 2022 | cbc north

Once eager to drill, oil companies exit leases in Arctic refuge

Three big oil firms have pulled out of oil drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The refuge is the calving grounds for the porcupine caribou herd that migrates between between Alaska, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. Drilling in the area has been a contested issue for decades. The Gwich'in people who rely on the herd have been vocal opponents of drilling in the area.
3 June 2022 | Washington Post

Caribou protection called most problematic area of draft land-use plan

The news story says "The Nunavut Planning Commission says caribou protection is the top concern it hears about when it comes to its draft land-use plan." Hearings on the land use plan are scheduled until January 2023.
12 May 2022 | Nunatsiaq News

What caribou do, without you: Fortymile herd outfitted with cameras

A news story on the data obtained from video cameras attached to collared caribou with the Fortymile herd that migrates between Alaska and Yukon. Analysis of the video allows for estimates of what proportions of different foods the caribou are eating, and of how long they spend in different activities.
2 May 2022 | Yukon News

Parts of Northwest Alaska will be closed to nonlocal caribou and moose hunters the next 2 summers

A regulatory body in Alaska has closed off caribou and moose hunting in an area in the Northwest of the state to anyone but local residents. Local people "...asked for closures to preserve the declining moose and caribou population, restore the caribou migration pattern and protect subsistence resources desperately needed during the pandemic." 2021 figures show the Western Arctic caribou herd has declined by almost a quarter over the two years previous to the 2021 count.
4 April 2022 | Alaska Daily News

A story about the quest of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou management board to double its budget, in part to pay for an updated management plan for the herds. There's also a reference in the story to incresed pressures of sport hunting on the herds.
1 April 2022 | Nunatsiaq news

Public help sought to identify illegal caribou harvesters

A brief news story about more apparent illiegal hunting of caribou in the Bathurst herd. Hunting restrictions were put in place to help conserve the herd which has slipped from a high of 400,000 animals down to less than 7,000.
17 March 2022 | Northern news services

Tłı̨chǫ Gov't says caribou herds need 'balance' between conservation, harvesting, industry

A news article that talks about the need to balance the pressures on Northwest Territories caribou herds. The article notes that the Bluenose East herd seem to be recovering, while the Bathurst herd contniues to decline.  
14 March 2022 | CBC north

N.W.T. judge tasked with clearing 'log jam' built by differing caribou worldviews

A news story about a court challenge lodged by Sahtu communities after the Northwest Territories government rejected a community conservation plan for the Bluenose West herd.The Colville Lake Renewable Resources Council (CLRRC), Behdzi Ahda First Nation and Ayoni Keh Land Corporation and the Sahtu Renewable Resources Board are challenging the decision. The herd is officially estimated at about fewer than 19,000 animals, down from a high of 110,000.
3 March 2022 | cbc north

N.W.T. wildlife officers investigate possible caribou poaching near MacKay Lake

A news story about potential caribou poaching north of Yellowknife, NWT. A helicopter patrol along the winter road system spotted some caribou being hunted inside a prohibited zone set up to protect the Bathurst caribou herd.
18 February 2022 | CBC North

Genetic legacy of last glaciation influences reindeer's seasonal migrations

This news release is about a new study that cross referenced GPS tracked movements and genetics of caribou, and found genes thought to be associated with migratory behaviour. The genetic differences are thought to spring from a genetic division during the last ice age, when populations were physically separated by ice sheets. The study authors say this has implications for possible loss of migratory behaviours if genes are lost through shrinking populations.
11 February 2022 | Science Daily

The biggest land use plan in the world: how Nunavut is putting mining and conservation on the map

This longer story is about the Nunavut land use plan. The draft plan designates key caribou habitat such as calving areas as "limited use" effectively closing them off to industrial development such as mining. The plan has been in development for fifteen years, and is now considered close to completion.
18 January 2022 | The Narwhal

Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board seeks to more than double its funding

The lead of the story is that the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou management board is looking to double its budget citing climate change as a complicating factor in conserving the herd. The story also notes that the board is revising its caribou management plan in 2022.
30 December 2021 | cbc north

Barren-Ground Caribou Population Surveys Indicate Positive Signs for Some Herds, and Ongoing Concerns for the Bathurst Herd

Caribou herd counts were released for five herds surveyed in 2021. All five herds were last surveyed in 2018. Three herds (Tukotyaktuk Peninsula, Cape Bathurst, Bluenose East) show slight increases, the other two (Bathust and Bluenose West) show further declines. 
21 December 2021 | Government of the NWT

Shrinking Western Arctic Caribou Herd prompts discussion about future hunting restrictions

The Western Arctic herd in Northwest Alaska has declined by 23% over the past two years. The decline has prompted a working group to change the status of the herd to "preservative declining". the story suggest this "...could lead to a prohibition on the harvest of calves, further limits on the cow harvest for residents and the closure of hunting for nonresidents." there are several reasons discussed for the decline, including a mining road disrupting migration.
20 December 2021 | Anchorage daily news (alaska)

Indigenous groups concerned about Point Lake’s impact on caribou

This news story talks about the concerns raised by Indigenous organizations at a hearing into a potential new diamond development about 300 km northeast of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. The Indigenous organization representatives fear that the waste rock from the mine will interfere with the health of the depleted Bathurst caribou herd. The mining company says it has taken measures to ensure that the proposed mine does not significantly impede caribou movement. 
13 December 2021 | cabin radio (NWT)

Arctic lays out environmental plan for Point Lake

This news story talks about the plan for the Arctic Canadian Diamond Company to pursue a new diamond mining project at Point Lake, near the company's existing mine at Ekati. The company plans to try to mitigate the impacts on Caribou of mine infrastructure; "Arctic’s plan includes caribou monitoring, ramps on an access road that will allow caribou to cross, investment of $500,000 over three years in research on the Bathurst caribou herd, and support for an on-the-land culture camp. Arctic’s plan includes caribou monitoring, ramps on an access road that will allow caribou to cross, investment of $500,000 over three years in research on the Bathurst caribou herd, and support for an on-the-land culture camp. "
29 November 2021 | Cabin Radio (NWT)

Bluenose East caribou hunting limit set at 170 tags as herd continues to decline: GN

short news story about a government of Nunavut decision to limit harvest from the Bluenose East herd at 170 animals this year. The herd is mostly hunted by people from Kugluktuk in its Nunavut range. the herd size was estimated at 19,000 in 2018, down from 120,000 in 2010.
15 November 2021 | Nunavut news

Remotely-sensed trends in vegetation productivity and phenology during population decline of the Bathurst caribou herd

This is both a written interview, and the same information in audio format with the two authors of a paper that used satellite information to map out changes in vegetation in the range of the Bathurst Caribou (NWT/Nunavut). The satellite data did show changes in the vegetation patterns and the authors are onw traveeling to different places within the herd range to see what those changes look like on the ground. The researchers are curious about whether the vegetation changes might have some influence on the herd's recent drastic decline.
9 November 2021 | Canadian Science Publishing

Caribou populations are dwindling, and we’re in denial about it

An opinion piece from Yukon Conservation Society about the impacts of industrial development on caribou herds. It notes that caribou habitat in Yukon is relatively well-protected.
26 October 2021 | Yukon News

Decades-long plan to protect caribou in Nunavut nearing completion

An online article and associated radio broadcast about the near-completion on the Nunavut Land Use Plan, and its implications for caribou conservation.
13 October 2021 | CBC radio

Caribou are vanishing at an alarming rate. Is it too late to save them?

A magazine-length article giving an overview of some of the challenges facing caribou in Canada, and the impacts of caribou decline. It includes both barren-ground and woodland caribou.
7 September 2021 | Canadian Geographic

Highly Contagious Bacteria Infects Mulchatna Caribou Herd

This 18'15" interview focuses mostly on the incidence of the disease brucellosis in the Mulchatna caribou herd in Alaska but also touches on other diseases and parasites, and the connection to climate change. The migratory southwest Alaskan herd has suffered declines similar to those seen in much of northern Canada.
23 July 2021 | KYUK (Alaska)

Colville Lake challenging caribou decision in court

A news story about the Northwest Territories community of Colville Lake (Behdzi Ahda First Nation) asking the NWT Supreme Court to rule on the application of the tag and quota system for caribou hunting. The community had developed its own conservation plan for hunting the Bluenose East herd, a plan that was approved by the Sahtu renewable Resources Board. The Territorial Minister of Environment and Natural Resources over-ruled the Board's decision citing the herd's continuing low numbers.
7 June 2021 | CBC north

We watch everything: Dene Elders guide effort to save vanishing Arctic caribou

Photo essay about the Ekwǫ̀ Nàxoède K’è: Boots on the Ground program, initiated by the Tłı̨chǫ Government in the Northwest Territories. The program is designed to monitor the dwindling caribou in the region, teach land skills, and pass on culture.
17 May 2021 | the Narwhal

Don’t waste caribou, Kivalliq HTO tells hunters

A spokesperson for the local Hunters and Trappers Organization in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut urges people to not waste parts of the caribou they hunt. The story speaks of anecdotal evidence that people are leaving less sought-after parts of the caribou behind. 
7 May 2021 | Nunatsiaq News (Nunavut)

What Human Rights Look Like: Border-Crossing Caribou and a Fight for Environmental Justice

This article focuses on the advocacy of Lenny Kohm, a photographer who worked with Gwich'in (a first nation in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Alaska) to create the Last Great Wilderness show that focused on opposition to drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge in Alaska contains the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd that migrates between Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
23 April 2021 | Network in Canadian History & Environment

NWT asks for input on Bathurst caribou management plan

A news story about the consultations being held on a draft Bathurst Caribou Management Plan by the Government of the Northwest Territories. The herd numbers have plummeted by 98% since 1986. The plan was co-developed by a variety of governments and other institutions.  
22 April 2021 | Cabin Radio (NWT)

Dene governments in N.W.T. launch ice road caribou harvest monitoring

An online news story about Indigenous governments monitoring caribou hunting along the ice road north of Yellowknife. Both the Tli'cho government and Yellowknives Dene have set up monitoring stations in the area, adding to the checks by the government of the Northwest Territories. The Indigenous-run checkpoints are not enforcing rules, just watching hunters and caribou.
19 April 2021 | APTN

Listen: Monitoring the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road for illegal caribou harvesting

A multimedia page, including an 11 minute sound file focusing on the problems with illegal hunting on the ice road north of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.
13 April 2021 | CKLB (NWT)

monitoring caribou on the winter road

This is an online story and 4'23" video talking about the efforts to monitor caribou hunting in the area north of Yellowknofe. Recent concerns about bad hunting practices, including meat wastage are mentioned.
2 April 2021 | Cabin radio (NWT)

Caribou pay when Dene laws are broken

An opinion column that talks about the importance of traditional Indigenous hunting practices for caribou conservation. The author lists some of the traditional hunting laws, and the responsibility of communities to enforce those laws.
29 March 2021 | Northern news service

Premier says government won’t regulate online caribou meat sales

The government of Nunavut says it cannot regulate the online sales of caribou meat after concerns were raised by local politicians about the impact of such sales on the  Qamanirjuaq herd. The government says it cannot interfere because of the terms of the Nunavut land claim, so the issue should be taken to the land claims organization, Nunavut Tunggavik Incorporated (NTI). NTI says the volume of sales and the impact on caribou numbers are uncertain, so it is "premature to propose restrictions".
22 March 2021 | Nunatsiaq News

No disrespect – but the Bathurst caribou situation is grim

This opinion piece talks about the impact of hunting from a winter road on the Bathurst caribou herd. The author suggests that the road, used to resupply diamond mines north of Yellowknife, should be closed to the public
17 March 2021 | NWT News/north

Illegal hunting of caribou herds along winter roads running rampant

A news story about an increase in caribou hunting infractions in the Northwest Territories. There are particular concerns about meat wastage and bad hunting practices along the access roads to the diamond mines northeast of Yellowknife. NWT officials say "they are currently investigating the illegal harvest of over 50 caribou so far this winter, compared to less than 10 at this point last year." 
10 March 2021 | CBC North

Community plans to lead caribou conservation in Sahtú region

This news story is about a decision by the Sahtu Renewable Resources Board (Northwest Territories) to approve a community-led approach to managing caribou. The communities of Colville Lake and Délı̨nę have already developed plans. Once the community plans are fully approved, a "total allowable harvest" quota system administered by the Renewable Resources Board will be lifted, although it can be reimposed if the Board thinks it necessary.
18 November 2020 | CKLB Radio

N.W.T. wolf cull 'inhumane and unnecessary,' says Łutsel K'e Dene First Nation

This news story quotes a submission by the Łutsel K'e Dene First Nation to an official request by the NWT and Tlicho governments for feedback on plans to cull wolves. The wolf-culling program is intended to help protect the Bluenose East and Bathurst caribou herds. Both of them have declined dramatically in the past few years. The First Nation's letter calls the wolf-culling plan "inhumane and unnecessary".
17 November 2020 | CBC North

Canada’s environment minister concerned about Alaska seismic project impacts on Indigenous communities and trans-border wildlife

News item about the concerns raised by Canada's Environment Minister regarding planned development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The area is the calving ground for the Porcupine Caribou herd that ranges into Yukon and the NWT. Seismic work in the reserve is planned for this winter, stretching into the time when caribou begin arriving in the area for calving.
11 November 2020 | RCI - eye on the Arctic

Climate is changing Arctic wildlife habits; unique international study

This web story talks about a new study that looked at long term movement patterns in a variety of Arctic wildlife, including caribou. The story notes, "...there is evidence of earlier migrations to the north, and for example earlier births among northern caribou, not seen in more southerly herds. This may result in the higher mortality being observed in northern caribou herds as nutritious food may not be sprouting at the same time as migrations and calving."
6 November 2020 | Radio Canada International

N.W.T. harvesters will get more training to kill wolves, help caribou population

A story about the NWT and Tłı̨chǫ governments' plans to help train local harvesters to kills wolves. This is part of the attempt to reduce wolf predation on the Bathurst and Bluenose East caribou herds. At the moment only one person in theTłı̨chǫ comunities targets wolves.
28 August 2020 | CBC

Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in organizes community hunt of Fortymile caribou to bridge generation gap

Members of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation (Yukon) are hunting caribou in the Fortymile herd for the first time in twenty years. The Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in had voluntarily stopped hunting the caribou herd after its numbers dropped to a low of 6,500. The herd, that migrates between Yukon and Alaska is now estimated at 84,000.
13 July 2020 | CBC

Strategy to help NWT’s beleaguered caribou is released

A news story about a new recovery strategy for barren-ground caribou herds in the NWT.  The strategy was developed by group of governments and regulatory boards, collectively known as the Conference of Management Authorities. The recovery strategy will guide how all NWT herds of barren-ground caribou are managed, with the exception of the Porcupine herd.
10 July 2020 | cabin radio

Blanket protection for Nunavut caribou not the only option: wildlife biologist

A 2019 news story focusing on Nunavut caribou populations that questions the effectiveness of protected areas on caribou conservation in the territory.
5 April 2019 | Nunatsiaq News

'Deadly serious': 2 caribou herds shrink by half in latest count

A 2018 news story about the rapid decline of the Bathurst and Bluenose-East herds.
20 November 2018 | CBC

Barren ground caribou classified as 'threatened' in the N.W.T.

A 2018 news story about the addition of barren-ground caribou to the NWT Species At Risk list.
11 July 2018 | CBC

Related resources

A taste of space: Remote animal observations anddiscrete-choice models provide new insights into foragingand density dynamics for a large subarctic herbivore

An academic paper describing results from anaylzing footage from cameras on caribou collars. The paper focuses on the sorts of food that caribou of the Fortymile herd are eating. This information is important in selecting conservation areas, and in understanding how caribou diets (and numbers) might change in response to climat change.

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Barren-groundFortymileRange managementClimate changeHuman disturbance

Population genetics of caribou in the Alaska-Yukon border region: implications for designation of conservation units and small herd persistence

An academic paper giving results from the genetics of carious caribou herds near the Yukon/Alaska border, including the Fortymile herd. This is important for conservation purposes, as the papr notes, "Canada classified caribou Designatable Units (DUs) for conservation in 2011, but lacked the genetic data needed to assess herds in the central Yukon...".However, the study was unable to definitvely assign the Fortymile herd to the barrenground caribou 'designatable unit' finding that the herd shared genetics with some northern mountain caribou herds.

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PorcupineBarren-groundFortymileRange managementManagement

Jay Macdonald: Our Commitment to Caribou Stewardship

A Minister's statement by NWT government Minister of Environment nd Climate Change focusing on barren ground caribou. The statement includes information about a public education campaign on respectful hunting, and plans to survey three herds found in the territoriy in summer of 2024.

caribou and plastics

This 5'52 video features research scientist Mary Gamberg talking about new research into assessing microplastics in caribou. The research is just beginning and is likely the first research of its kind done on land animals in the Arctic.

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Contaminants and eating caribou

In this one minute video research scientist Mary Gamberg talks about contaminants and eating caribou. This is part two in a series of interviews on the topic of contaminants and caribou. 

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measuring contaminants in northern caribou

In this 3':15" video interview, research scientist Mary Gamberg talks about a project that measures contaminants in northern caribou herds. The project focuses primarily on the Porcupine and Qamanirjuaq herds, but other herds have also been sampled. This is part of a series of four video interviews on the topic of contaminants in caribou.

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PorcupineBeverly and QaminirjuaqBarren-groundContaminants

Continental synchrony and local responses: Climatic effects on spatiotemporal patterns of calving in a social ungulate

This paper looked at data from seven barren ground caribou herds, totalling more than 1200 animals over 15 years. The authors were trying to estimate the effects of changing climate on calving. The paper notes that, "...the ability to access preferred calving areas and the ability to synchronize births in time are critical for maintaining high barren-ground caribou abundances..." in concludes, "Overall, we detected considerable variability across years and across herds, but no significant trend for earlier calving by caribou, even as broad indicators of spring and snow phenology trend earlier." 

Caribou as Forest Protectors

An online magazine story generally about caribou and indigenous conservation, it contains a section dealing with the Porcupine herd, quoting Joe Tetlichi, Chair of the Porcupine Caribou Management Board. He discusses climate change, development pressures on the herd's range, hunting management, and the importance of mobilizing Indigenous knowledge.

BQCMB - Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan - 2023

A 11'29" video by the Beverly and Qamairjuaq Caribou Management Board. It aggregates testimony from Indigenous people speaking at hearings into the Nunavut Land Use Plan in Rankin Inlet and Thompson Manitoba. The testimony highlights the importance of protecting caribou habitat, especially calving grounds. The end of the video highlights written statements from organizations expressing the same sentiments.

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Beverly and QaminirjuaqBarren-groundHuman disturbance

Caribou: Take Action Today for the Future

A brief statement by the Northwest Territories Minister of Environment and Natural Resources announcing a new communications push to promote ethical caribou hunting practices. The plan was co-seveloped with Indigenous governments and representatives.
GNWT (2023)

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Barren-groundBathurstManaging huntingHunting

Why didn’t the caribou (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus) cross the winter road? The effect of industrial traffic on the road-crossing decisions of caribou

An academic article (not open access) that reports on a study that monitored the behaviour of collared caribou next to a winter road in the Northwest Territories used for mine access. The study found, "Caribou rarely crossed the road when any level of traffic was present; the level of traffic, not the road right-of-way, was the underlying explanatory factor for that behavioural decision." The authors suggest that adjusting traffic levels and frequencies might help mitigate the effect on caribou.
springer (2023)

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Barren-groundRange managementHuman disturbance

Large herbivore diversity slows sea ice–associated decline in arctic tundra diversity

An academic paper that looked at the effects of caribou and muskox on biodiversity in Arctic tundra. The loss of sea ice is affecting tundra biodiversity, but the experiment documented in this paper found that the loss of biodiversity was slower where caribou and muskox were present.

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Barren-groundClimate change

Evidence of migratory coupling between grey wolves and migratory caribou

An academic paper examining movement of wolves following caribou herds in Northern Quebec.

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Barren-groundLeaf RiverManaging predatorsNatural factors

Gwich'in Elder: Mary Effie Snowshoe

A 7':06" video highlighting a Gwich'in (Northwest Territories) elder filmed at a caribou summit in Fort McPherson. She talks about the Gwich'in relationship with caribou.

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Nunavut Impact Review Board Issues Reconsideration Report and Recommendations for Agnico Eagle Mines Limited’s “Meliadine Extension” Project Proposal, related to the Meliadine Gold Mine Project

A news release from the Nunavut Impact review board giving its reasons for turning down a request for a gold mine extension in Nunavut. The request from the Meliadine gold mine north of Rankin inlet would have added 11 years to the mine life, according to the mine owners. The review board highlighted potential effects of the mine expansion on the Qamairjuaq caribou herd and the people who rely on the herd; "...the Board noted high levels of uncertainty as to whether existing or modified mitigation measures would be sufficiently protective to prevent or manage negative effects from the Extension Proposal on caribou; especially when considering critical calving and post-calving periods. The Board also acknowledges that unpredicted negative impacts on caribou would have immediate negative effects on the ability of Inuit, Dene and Denesuline reliant on this herd to harvest caribou, which could have devastating and lasting effects on livelihood, health and culture."
Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) (2023)

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Beverly and QaminirjuaqBarren-groundRange managementHuman disturbance

Shifting trails: the shrinking range of Bathurst Caribou

An excellent new web-based resource including maps and multimedia that gives a clear description of the challenges faced by the endangered Bathurst caribou herd, and the impacts of the herd's decline on the Tłı̨chǫ. The Tłı̨chǫ are a first nation whose territories to the north of Great Slave Lake overlap with the wintering range of the Bathurst herd. This site is a good case study of the challenges facing this herd and other barren ground caribou herds.
"Fate of the Caribou" project and partners (2023)

Effects of vehicle traffic on space use and road crossings of caribou in the Arctic

This academic paper examined the influence of traffic volume on how caribou in Alaska's Central Arctic Herd used their summer range and road crossings. The area studied is crossed by roads to service two oil fields on the North Slope. Previous sudies had suggested that 15 vehicles per hour was the level at which the caribou tended to avoid roads areas and road crossings, but the new study suggests that use of areas near roads picks up when traffic is less than 5 vehicles per hour. The study also fund that insect harassment seemed to be a factor too - when insect harassment was higher, caribou were less likely to be deterred by roads and traffic.

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Barren-groundRange managementHuman disturbance

The Candid Caribou Project

A 3':21" video explaining research being done with trail cameras in Wapusk National Park. The trail cameras are helping to monitor the abundance and behaviours of the Cape Churchill caribou herd. The videos gives a breif overview of the project, and some messages about the importance of caribou at the end.

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Barren-groundCape ChurchillRange management

Caribou and Wind Turbines Annotated Bibliography

A 75-page annotated bibliography (this means the original sources are summarized) of sources for information about the effects of wind turbines on caribou. This was a project by Heather Hayne for WWF Canada.

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Barren-groundRange managementClimate changeHuman disturbance

Assessing trends in caribou harvest

This two-page summary of research shows the impacts of caribou declines on several communities, mostly Gwich'in in northern NWT.  Overall, half of the people surveyed said that their household needs for caribou were not met. That figure was as high as 88% for Gwich'in in Inuvik. The main reason for needs being unmet was a lack of caribou availability (numbers too small, or too far away).

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The importance of ranges and habitat for the Porcupine Caribou Herd

A good simple and visually interesting web page/infographic that explains the importance of the different parts of the Porcupine caribou herd range. Ideal for younger audiences as a learning tool. Although specific to the Porcupine herd, it could also be used to explain the importance of range for other migratory caribou herds.

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PorcupineBarren-groundRange managementNatural factors

Kǫ̀k’etı̀: Walking with Caribou

A beautifully shot 24':46" film that follows Indigenous Ekwǫ̀ Nàxoèhdee K’è caribou monitors in the Northwest Territories as they follow the Bathurst caribou herd to try to understnad the herd's decline. The film shows the Tłı̨chǫ people’s relationship with the caribou, and documents the passing on of knowledge about the land and the herd.

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Barren-groundBathurstRange managementPeople

bibliography of sources for caribou and wind turbines

This is a bibliography of sources (both academic and grey literature) that discuss the impact of wind turbines on caribou/reindeer. The resources were compiled by Heather Hayne for WWF Canada.

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Barren-groundRange managementThreatsClimate changeHuman disturbance

Caribou and wind turbines (Kivalliq region) - an overview of available information

A 22 slide presentation (exported as a pdf) providing an overview of effects of wind turbine development on Caribou. As the presentation points out, there is little information directly on the effects of wind turbines, so a lot of the information covers the effects of potential related disturbance. The presentation is related to plans to install wind turbines in the Nunavut communities of Baker Lake, Arviat and Rankin Inlet. The presentation was the result of a project by Heather Hayne for WWF Canada.

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Beverly and QaminirjuaqBarren-groundRange managementClimate changeHuman disturbance

The Effect of Traffic Levels on the Distribution and Behaviour of Calving Caribou in an Arctic Oilfield

14 page (without reference list) academic journal article on the effects of traffic and infrastructure on the behaviour of calving caribou from the Central Arctic (barren ground) herd in Alaska. The paper concludes, "some behavioral disturbance and displacement of maternal caribou during calving still occur with convoying of traffic and low traffic frequency. Convoying may reduce the amount of displacement during periods between convoys, which could improve crossing success."

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PorcupineBarren-groundRange managementHuman disturbance

Update on the global status of wild reindeer and caribou

This online article gives a relatively brief overview of the status of wild caribou and reindeer around the circumpolar world. There are some bright spots, but, "At the global scale, the historical trend continues with declining abundance and contracting distribution for most Rangifer populations." The global population of wild caribou and reindeer is estimated ar 2.43 million, down from 2.8 million in 2016.

Behaviour is more important than thermal performance for an Arctic host–parasite system under climate change

An academic paper reporting on combined experimentation and modeling to try to assess the effects of climate change on a common caribou/reindeer gut parasite. The paper found that not just changing temperatures, but the ways in which parasites may change their behaviours, and ways in which caribou may also change theoir behaviours are likely to be more important factors.

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Barren-groundBathurstClimate changeNatural factors

Bathurst caribou health guide

Visual assessment of caribou health is very difficult. To better understand the current health status of Bathurst caribou, Kaitlyn Dornstauder, a University of Calgary Veterinary student working in the lab of Susan Kutz, teamed up with Ekwò Naxoehdeè K’è (A Tlicho government project to monitor caribou, translated as "boots on the ground") to develop a caribou health field guide to help improve observations of caribou condition on the barren lands. This is a poster describing the project.
Kaitlyn Dornstauder (2022)

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Government of Canada invests $3.8 million to support barrenground caribou conservation in the Northwest Territories

A news release from the Canadian government department of Environment and Climate Change announcing an investment in three caribou projects of $3.8 million, to be matched equally by the government of the Northwest Territories. the releqase says the projects, "will monitor barren-ground caribou, their habitats, and threats that may be affecting herds in the Northwest Territories by using Indigenous and Western science and knowledge. Projects also aim to conserve and protect barren-ground caribou populations and their habitats by working to minimize human and predator impacts, and identifying important barren-ground caribou habitats such as calving grounds and migratory routes for conservation." The release doesn't mention the exact nature of the projects, or the period over which the money will be paid out.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (2022)

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Barren-groundRange managementClimate changeHuman disturbanceNatural factors

Fortymile Caribou Herd: Video footage from caribou collars

A 1:45 video compilation of video taken from collared caribou in the fortymile herd showing a variety of behaviors including foraging, birthing, and nursing.
Alaska NPS (2021)

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Caribou and reindeer migrations in the changing Arctic

This academic paper looks at factors that affect caribou migration, including climate change and development. it concludes, "...we recommend that large areas of undeveloped critical habitat, like calving grounds, be protected to conserve Rangifer. Where barriers exist, or will exist, migrations will be altered or lost."
Animal Migration (2021)

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Barren-groundRange managementClimate changeHuman disturbanceNatural factors

Critical summer foraging tradeoffs in a subarctic ungulate

This 38-page academic paper looks at the summer diet of the Fortymile caribou herd that ranges between Yukon and Alaska. It uses video from collars on the nimals to analyze what they're eating, and other behaviours such as avoiding insects. The video confirmed a sharp decline in eating when insects such as mosquitoes were more present, and also confirmed that lichen is an important component of the herd's diet, even in summer.
ecology and evolution (Wiley) (2021)

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Barren-groundFortymileRange managementClimate change


This 12-page document gives brief summaries about work on muskox and caribou in the central Arctic region of Canada (communities of Ulukhaktok, Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay). The research centres on the health of the two species, and includes projects to gather Indigenous knowledge on the Dolphin and Union herd, and disease prevalence in the Bluenose East herd. The research is not yet complete so few conclusions are drawn.

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Barren-groundBluenose EastDolphin and UnionNatural factors

“These Trees Have Stories to Tell”:Linking Dënesǫ́łıné Oral History of Caribou Use with Trample Scar Frequencyon Black Spruce Roots at Ɂedacho Kué

This academic article combines Indigenous and scientific knowledge to elaborate on the histroy of caribou movements near the Dënesǫ́łıné community of Lutsel K'e (Northwest Territories). It is useful to not only consider the abundance history of the Bathurst and Beverly caribou herds, but also the ways in which the research was locally-directed, and the ways in which the different types of knowledge were used. The paper repeats the contention of local people that disruption caused by mining in the region is largely to blame for the current herd declines.

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Beverly and QaminirjuaqBarren-groundBathurstHuman disturbance

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."    

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PorcupineBeverly and QaminirjuaqBarren-groundBaffin IslandContaminants

Predicting patterns of terrestrial lichen biomass recovery following boreal wildfires

This academic paper looks at lichens, an important food for caribou. It examines the current distribution of lichens, and also the recovery time for lichens after forest fires. This varies according to climate and the dominant trees in the area.
Ecosphere (2021)

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Barren-groundRange managementClimate change

Estimation of trends in zone of influence of mine sites on barren-ground caribou populations in the Northwest Territories, Canada, using new methods

An academic study looking at how much diamond mines in the Northwest Territories influence habitat used by barren-ground caribou. The study showed these effects varied from year to year. the paper says, "The exact mechanisms that cause caribou to avoid mines, roads and oilfields has not been clearly identified. "

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Barren-groundBathurstRange managementHuman disturbance

Historical Landscape Use of Migratory Caribou: New Insights From Old Antlers

This academic paper uses shed antlers from the Central Arctic Caribou herd in Alaska to trace the herd's historical movements. The analysis shows the herd shifting its range at the same time as oil development was starting to occur in the herd's range.

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Barren-groundRange managementHuman disturbance

A decision support tool for assessing cumulative effects on an Arctic migratory tundra caribou population

This academic paper uses a "caribou cumulative effects model" to examine what would happen to the Porcupine Caribou herd if oil and gas development took place in the herd's calving grounds. It concludes that the likelihood of a decline in the herd would move from 3% to 19% over the next tend years, depending on the development secenario.
ecology and Society (2021)

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PorcupineBarren-groundRange managementHuman disturbance

Ecological insights from three decades of animal movement tracking across a changing Arctic

This academic article summarizes trends in long-term data on a variety of Arctic species movements, including barren-ground Caribou. It found, "Barren-ground caribou calved later despite occupying a similar latitudinal range as the northern boreal caribou (Fig. 3). Most importantly, barren-ground and northern woodland caribou, but not southern woodland caribou, exhibited significant trends toward earlier parturition [0.4 to 1.1 days/year (table S10)]. This is the first continental-scale retrospective evidence of potential adaptive responses to climate trends by caribou."
science magazine (2020)

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Barren-groundClimate change

Renal trace elements in barren-ground caribou subpopulations: Temporal trends and differing effects of sex, age and season

An academic paper that looks at the level of some metals in kidneys of some northern caribou. It found that copper levels are decreasing in the caribou kidneys, possibly due to changes in what caribou are eating. The paper concludes, "Declining Cu concentrations in caribou are of concern as low levels could potentially negatively affect reproduction and therefore caribou at a population level."
Science of the Total Environment (2020)

Contaminants in Arctic Caribou Synopsis Report 2019-20

A 9 page synopsis report of the Arctic Caribou Contaminant Monitoring Program. The program covers several Arctic herds. It concludes, "Levels of most contaminants measured in caribou kidneys were not of concern toxicologically, although renal [kidney] mercury and cadmium concentrations may cause some concern for human health depending on the quantity of organs consumed. Yukon Health has advised restricting intake of kidney and liver from Yukon caribou, the recommended maximum varying depending on herd (e.g. a maximum of 25 Porcupine cariboukidneys/year). The health advisory confirms that heavy metals are very low in the meat (muscle) from caribouand this remains a healthy food choice. There have been no health advisories issued for caribou in NWT or Nunavut."
Northern contaminants program (2020)

Report to the Hunters of the Lorillard Caribou May 2020 - Inuktitut

A brief report in Inuktitut from the Northern Contaminants Program on contaminants in the Lorillard herd. The animals were sampled in 2018. The report concludes, "Although it is difficult to come to any firm conclusions based on only four animals, we can say that contaminant levels in the Lorillard Caribou are similar to those in other Arctic herds. There have been no health advisories issued on any Nunavut caribou."

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Report to the Hunters of the Lorillard Caribou May 2020

A brief report from the Northern Contaminants Program on contaminants in the Lorillard herd. The animals were sampled in 2018. The report concludes, "Although it is difficult to come to any firm conclusions based on only four animals, we can say that contaminant levels in the Lorillard Caribou are similar to those in other Arctic herds. There have been no health advisories issued on any Nunavut caribou."

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Large‐scale prion protein genotyping in Canadian caribou populations and potential impact on chronic wasting disease susceptibility

This academic paper is about chronic wasting disease, a brain disease that affects members of the deer family. It has not been found in Canadian caribou yet, but has been found in deer. The genetic makeup of different caribou subspecies is thought to influence their vulnerability to chronic wasting disease. This paper suggests that barren-ground caribou may be less vulnerable than the woodland and mountain caribou.

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Interchange and Overlap Among Four Adjacent Arctic Caribou Herds

This academic paper looks at four barren-ground caribou herds in Alaska (including the Porcupine herd that ranges into northern Canada) to try to understand how often individuals change herds. Of the four herds studied, the Porcupine herd had the lowest incidence of caribou joining another herd. The authors concluded, "There was greater herd interchange from the 2 smaller herds to the 2 larger herds, indicating a tendency of caribou to join larger groups or move to areas of higher caribou density."

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This 70-page recovery strategy for barren-gound caribou in the Northwest Territories lays out plans to help the eight herds covered by the strategy. The strategy was required by the NWT Species at Risk Act after the barren-ground caribou were listed as "threatened" in 2018. The governments and co-management boards that developed the strategy have until April 9, 2021 to agree on the implementation of the recovery strategy. 
Conference of Management Authorities (2020)

Porcupine caribou resources and tools

This is a web page on which you can search for categorized information on the Porcupine caribou herd.
Porcupine Caribou Management Board (2019)

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Recovery strategy for Barren-Ground caribou

This 62-page 2019 draft recovery strategy for barren-ground caribou in the NWT was produced by the group of wildlife boards and governments responsible for the conservation and recovery of species at risk in the NWT.
Government of the Northwest Territories (2019)

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Barren-ground Caribou Co-Management in the NWT

A 21-page booklet explaining the different responsibilities and authroities for managing all of the barren-ground caribou herds in the NWT. It includes information on responsibilities for herds that cross borders.
Government of the Northwest Territories (2019)

Report to the Hunters of the Qamanirjuaq Caribou – Feb 2019

With the help of local hunters, we have been taking kidney, liver and muscle samples of Qamanirjuaq caribou since 2006. We collect these samples to study changes in the levels of contaminants in kidneys and livers of caribou. These contaminants may be carried to the Arctic by wind.

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Beverly and QaminirjuaqBarren-groundPeopleContaminants

Indigenous leadership in caribou conservation

A series of 14 interviews with northern Indigenous people talking about caribou and Indigenous knowledge, recorded during the 2018 North American Caribou Workshop. Interviews range from just under 8 minutes to more than 45 minutes.
IsumaTV (2018)

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Inuit Approaches to Naming and Distinguishing Caribou: Considering Language, Place, and Homeland toward Improved Co-management

An academic paper describing how the people of Uqsuqtuuq (Gjoa Haven) in Nunavut describe different sorts of caribou. These don't match up with how biologists describe the herds. The authors suggest that a better understanding of how local people describe caribou would help in management of the herds.

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Undermining subsistence: Barren-ground caribou in a “tragedy of open access”

This 2018 academic paper argues that human disturbance, not subsistence hunting is the prime driver of caribou decline. It focuses primarily on the Bathurst Caribou Herd, shared between the NWT and Nunavut
Various (2018)

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Human disturbance effects and cumulative habitat loss in endangered migratory caribou

A 2018 academic paper to assess the effects of human disturbance on barren-ground caribou herds. This study focuses on the Leaf River and George River herds in northern Quebec and Labrador. The paper finds caribou do avoid human disturbance but makes no findings on the impacts to the health of the two herds
Université Laval (2018)

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Barren-groundGeorge RiverLeaf River

Barren-ground Caribou Survey Results FAQ

A 6-page document on the barren-ground caribou surveys conducted by the Government of the Northwest Territories in 2018.
Government of the Northwest Territories (2018)

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Report to the Hunters of the Kivalliq Region Contaminants in Qamanirjuaq Caribou – September 2017

With the help of local hunters, we have been taking kidney, liver and muscle samples of Qamanirjuaq caribou since 2006. We collect these samples to study changes in the amount of contaminants such as mercury and lead in kidneys of caribou. These contaminants may be carried to the Arctic by wind.

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Format: pdf

Beverly and QaminirjuaqBarren-groundPeopleContaminants

SPECIES STATUS REPORT: Porcupine Caribou and Barren-ground Caribou

A lengthy NWT government Species at Risk assessment of barren-ground caribou and Porcupine caribou. It classifies the Porcupine caribou as “not at risk” in the NWT, and the other herds as “threatened” within the NWT. The assessment contains parallel tables that compare Indigenous and scientific knowledge on aspects of the caribou.
Government of the Northwest Territories (2017)

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Determining Optimal Radio Collar Sample Sizes for Monitoring Barren-ground Caribou Populations

A 40-page 2017 academic study discussing how many radio collars would be necessary to track particular herds in the Northwest Territories.
Government of the Northwest Territories (2017)

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General Approach to Harvest Modeling for Barren-ground Caribou Herds in the NWT and Recommendations on Harvest Based on Risk Status

A 39-page academic paper from 2016 designed to help assess the impact of hunting on barren-ground caribou herds, based on the population size and trend of a given herd.
Government of the Northwest Territories (2016)

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Sample Sizes of Collared Barren-ground Caribou to Estimate Herd Size in Winter and Fall Management Areas to Allow Assesment of Harvest Risk

A 2016 academic paper that analyzes how many caribou it is necessary to collar to reliably define proportions of each herd in harvest areas in fall and winter. It concludes that at least 20 collars are required per herd.
Government of the Northwest Territories (2016)

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VADZAIH – cooking caribou from antler to hoof

A caribou cookbook produced by the Porcupine caribou management board
Porcupine Caribou Management Board (2016)

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COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Caribou (Rangifer tarandus), Barren-ground population in Canada - 2016

The 2016 assessment report on barren-ground caribou prepared by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Canada (COSEWIC). It is a long, thorough and quite technical overview. It resulted in the Canadian populations of barren-ground caribou being designated “threatened” under the federal government system
Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) (2016)

caribou and community well-being (Gjoa Haven)

A web page with a variety of other resources centred on the link between the people of Gjoa Haven (Nunavut) and caribou. Resources on the page range from academic papers to a hand-drawn ink calendar showing the phases of local Inuit use of caribou.
Straight Up North (2016)

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Beverly and QaminirjuaqBarren-groundAhiakBathurstLorillardWager BayPeople

Review of post-2010 Literature on Human Effects on Barren-Ground Caribou: Focus on Traditional Knowledge, Western Science and Caribou Protection Measures

This 2015 report prepared for the Nunavut Wildlife management Board reviews both scientific and traditional knowledge sources published from 2010-2015 on the effects of human disturbance on barren-ground caribou. It is organized by looking at linear features (such as roads, power lines and pipelines), resource development infrastructure (such as buildings or open pit mines), and aircraft and vehicles. It concludes that, “The impact of development on caribou is usually not due to single roads, mines, cut-blocks or seismic lines; rather, it is the cumulative effect of many habitat alterations including disturbances over time that affects caribou numbers and distribution.”

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Peary caribou and barren-ground caribou COSEWIC assessment and status report: chapter 10

This 2015 chapter from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada analyzes the available information on threats to Peary Caribou and barren-ground caribou
Environment and Climate Change Canada (2015)

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The Cape Bathurst, Bluenose-West, and Bluenose-East Barren-ground Caribou Herds Management Plan

There is no management board for this herd, but there is a management plan. The plan was prepared under the authority of the Advisory Committee for Cooperation on Wildlife Management. This group brings together representatives of several renewable resources boards and committees in the NWT and Nunavut to address cross-boundary wildlife issues
Government of the Northwest Territories (2014)

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Working together for Baffin Island Caribou

A brief 2013 workshop report which examines the causes and impacts of the decline of caribou on Baffin Island, and suggests some management measures.
Government of Nunavut (2013)

Denésoliné (Chipewyan) Knowledge of Barren-Ground Caribou (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus) Movements

An academic paper from 2010 on the Indigenous knowledge of caribou from elders and hunters in Lutsel K’e in the Northwest Territories. Forest fires, mining development, and failure to comply with traditional practices are all noted as influences on caribou abundance.
Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation (2010)

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Cadmium in caribou and muskoxen from the Canadian Yukon and Northwest Territories

Cadmium, zinc, copper and metallothionein concentrations were measured in liver and kidney tissue of caribou and muskoxen collected from various sites in the Canadian Yukon and Northwest Territories. Cadmium concentrations in caribou tissues were substantially higher than in muskoxen for all age classes and were comparable to concentrations reported for caribou from northern Quebec and Norway.
Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) (1994)

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Caribou of Northern Canada

This 1971 13 minute film from the Canadian Wildlife Service has some dated information, but good basic information on the lifecycle of the barren-ground caribou.
Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) (1971)

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the refuge

This is a series of podcasts (11 altogether), most about half an hour long, focusing on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, calving ground of the Porcupine caribou herd. This in-depth series looks at the ongoing push to allow oil and gas development in the refuge. It includes the voices of Indigenous peoples who live nearby, and depend on the caribou herd. The series started in 2019, and updates were added in 2020 and 2021.
Threshold (202)

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PorcupineBarren-groundRange managementClimate changeHuman disturbance

Barren-ground Caribou

A website giving information on the barren-ground herds in the NWT.
Government of the Northwest Territories

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Barren-ground co-management in the Northwest Territories

This 20-page document from the Government of the Northwest Territories gives an overview of how co-management bodies in the NWT participate in management of the nine barren-ground caribou herds found in the territory.
Government of the Northwest Territories