Fortymile

  • Herd size (2017) 71,000

The Fortymile herd migrates between Alaska and Yukon. It was once estimated at about 600,000, and its range stretched from Whitehorse to Anchorage. By 1974, the herd was estimated at about 4,000, and it stopped migrating to Yukon. Conservation actions, including hunting restrictions and the sterilization of wolf packs were taken and the herd grew, although recent research suggests that wolf control was not a significant factor in the herd’s increase. By 2002 it was once again migrating into Yukon. The last count in 2017 estimated the herd size at 71,000.

Related news

First Nation raises alarm after Yukon opens caribou hunt without herd management plan

A news story about a disagreement over opening up harvest of the Forty Mile herd (shared between Alaska and Yukon). The Yukon government has opened up a limited hunt of the herd. A local First Nation (Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in) that uses the herd doesn't believe it should be open to hunting until a management plan is in place.
26 August 2020 | Aboriginal Peoples Television Network

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

Related resources

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)

Tactical departures and strategic arrivals: Divergent effects of climate and weather on caribou spring migrations

A 2019 academic paper that looks at factors affecting caribou migration timing and speed. The paper concludes that  later arrival at calving grounds might indicate that females are in worse condition, and that calving and calf survival rates might be lower.
(2019)

Demography of an increasing caribou herd with restricted wolf control: Caribou Demography and Wolves

A 2017 academic paper on the Fortymile herd focusing on wolf predation and the impact of overgrazing on herd size. The paper counters earlier opinions that wolf control (lethal and non-lethal) had a significant impact on the herd’s growth. Paper available on request.
(2017)

Usage: On request
Format: web

FortymileManaging predatorsNatural factors

Forty Mile Caribou in the Dawson Region

A 30-page report from 2012 on the Yukon portion of the herd’s range. It includes discussion of the potential impacts of forest fires.
Yukon Department of Environment (2012)


Format: pdf

Fortymile

FACT SHEET: Fortymile Caribou Herd

A five-page undated fact sheet on the herd, concentrating on the Indigenous knowledge of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation
Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Heritage Sites

Usage: Non-commercial with attribution
Format: pdf

FortymilePeople