Managing huntingManaging predatorsRange management

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.

Some threats to Arctic caribou are difficult to manage locally. Climate-driven threats such as the potential introduction of new diseases, additional insect harassment, and changes in vegetation will require international action way beyond the scope of governments and communities in Canada. That does not mean that communities and governments in Canada are powerless. They can take some actions that will tend to help caribou survive, by reducing other threats. 

Where caribou are migratory, they cross into several jurisdictions, crossing boundaries between Indigenous governments, territorial governments, provincial governments and even international boundaries. This can make management more difficult. One approach to this problem has been to develop management boards that bring together diverse stakeholders to manage one or more caribou herds. Examples of this approach are the Porcupine Caribou Management Board, and the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board. A similar approach is to develop management plans through a cooperative grouping of existing wildlife management boards. For instance, the Advisory Committee for Cooperation on Wildlife Management brings together the Gwich'in Renewable Resources Board, Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę Gots’ę́ Nákedı (Sahtu Renewable Resources Board), the Wek’èezhìi Renewable Resources Board, the Kitikmeot Regional Wildlife Board, and Tuktut Nogait National Park Management Board. Together, these boards cover an area from the southern NWT to the Arctic Coast in Nunavut, and have drafted caribou management plans for three herds. Some communities are also drafting their own caribou management plans. It is not yet clear how these community level plans will connect with other levels of caribou management.

It is clear that there are natural variations in herd size that seem to follow cycles. The current concern is that other factors may be driving herds beyond the usual limits of their lowest numbers, and may not be able to recover and increase. This concern is what is driving management actions. Just as there are various opinions on the most important drivers of decline, there are differing opinions on the best management actions to take. In this section, you will find discussion of some of the measures already being taken, and potential further measures.

Related 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

Guilbeault calls for decree to protect caribou in Quebec

Although this story is about woodland caribou, it is included here because of the actions being taken by a federal minister to discharge obligations to protect habitat for a threatened species, Woodland caribou. The federal minister has been negotiating a habitat protection plan with the government of Quebec, but the story quotes the Minister as saying that he is, "now required by law to recommend to the Governor in Council that a protection order be made for unprotected portions of critical boreal caribou habitat."
7 February 2023 | CTV news

N.W.T. committee to incorporate Indigenous knowledge into species at risk assessments

A news story about how the Northwest Territories Species at Risk Committee intends to treat Indigenous knowledge in its work on determining the status of species with the NWT. According to the story, the Committee "...will now use two separate sets of criteria based on Indigenous and community knowledge, and scientific knowledge, respectively. The final species assessment can be supported by criteria from either, or both, knowledge systems, depending on the best available information..."
8 March 2021 | CBC North

Nunavik pushes for its right to manage and harvest region’s caribou

The organization that represents Inuit in Nunavik (Northern Quebec) is working on an Inuit-led management plan for caribou in the region. They are concerned that the province does not recognize the priority of Inuit in hunting the caribou, and that federal government conservation planning does not distingush between the three herds in Nunavik. The herds in question (George River, Leaf River and Torngat Mountain) are all classified as Eastern Migratory Caribou.
21 July 2020 | Nunatsiaq News

Related resources

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

Boreal and Peary caribou listed for another 10 years on the NWT List of Species at Risk

A news release from the Conference of Management Authorities (the group of wildlife co-management boards and governments that share management responsibility for the conservation and recovery of species at risk in the NWT) announcing that Peary and boreal caribou will be described as 'threatened" for another 10 year under the NWT Species at Risk Act. A recovery strategy for boreal caribou in the NWT was adopted in 2017, and the NWT partners agreed to adopt the federal recovery stratgy for Peary Caribou in 2022. An assessment of "threatened" in the NWT means the species are likely to become endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to their extirpation or extinction.

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Guiding principles for Cross-Cultural Collaboration

A set of principles developed by the Indigenous Knowledge Circle of the National Boreal Caribou Knowledge Consortium on how to work together with Indigenous communities. The ten principles include 'Recognition of relationships with caribou', 'Collaboration and shared decision-making', and 'Respect for and openness to Indigenous Knowledge, culture and perspectives'. The link is to an English language version, the document is also available in Woods Cree, Inuttitut, Michif, and French.

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A document explaining the new Species at Risk assessment process adopted by the Northwest Territories Species at Risk Committee. The committee has adopted new rules that explain how inputs from Indigenous Knowledge will be used in assessment criteria. 
NWT species at risk committee (2021)

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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)

We have been Living with the Caribou all our Lives: a report on information recorded during community meetings

A 196-page report from 2014 from The Advisory Committee for Cooperation on Wildlife Management (a collection of wildlife management/renewable resources boards from the NWT and Nunavut). This report details community input to a management plan for the Cape Bathurst, Bluenose-West, and Bluenose-East herds
Advisory Committee for Cooperation on Wildlife Management (2014)