Managing hunting

Due in part to the declines amongst most Arctic caribou populations, and in part because many of the caribou are located closest to primarily Indigenous communities, there is a limited amount of hunting by non-Indigenous people.


Non-Indigenous people resident within some areas can still hunt a limited number of caribou. Some hunting is sport hunting, where hunters from outside the region pay outfitters to take them on a hunt. Today, this accounts for a relatively small number of kills where it is permitted. For many herds, there is no sport hunting allowed. 

Indigenous peoples have harvest rights, but recognizing the dire situation of some of the herds some Indigenous governments and organizations have put in place both voluntary and enforced harvest restrictions. For instance, in 2015 the Wek'èezhìı Renewable Resources Board (WRRB) in the Northwest Territories placed a moratorium on hunting the Bathurst Caribou Herd. This is enforced through the Mobile Core Bathurst Caribou Management Zone. In Nunavik (Northern Quebec) local leadership has put in place a prohibition on harvesting female caribou during the calving period. Where hunting does take place, estimating the size of the Indigenous subsistence harvest is an ongoing problem for managers, as reporting is voluntary. Despite efforts being undertaken by management boards, harvest information is still patchy.Hunting regulations for caribou populations tend to follow a pattern that recognizes the importance of caribou to Indigenous peoples, and their rights to hunt as defined in land claim agreements and legal judgements. For instance, the Beverly and Qaminirjuaq Caribou Management Board has priority of use categories that it follows when making harvest recommendations for the herds:

  1. traditional users - for domestic use
  2. resident users - for domestic use
  3. traditional or resident users - when guiding non-resident hunters
  4. local use - for commercial purposes
  5. export use - for commercial purposes

Regulations about how and when to hunt caribou can sometimes conflict with Indigenous codes of conduct. For instance, many Indigenous peoples who hunt caribou believe that the animal hunted gives itself to the hunter. To not accept the gift would be disrespectful and could lead to difficulties with later hunts.  Regulations that encourage the hunting of bulls over cows may also conflict with Indigenous knowledge. Science suggests that a reduction in the number of cows harvested from a herd can help the population increase through increased birth rates. Regulations that prohibit targeting cows at certain times of year put hunters following traditional codes in a dilemma. Some elders say that it is not a good idea to harvest mature bulls, as they are the leaders in the herd, and that removing larger bulls will weaken the strength of the herd.

Related news

Kugluktuk caribou harvest closes for the season

A short news story noting that hunting of the Dolpin and Union herd is now closed for hunters from the community of Kugluktuk, as the allowable harvest of 105 animals has been reached. The latest (2020) estimate of the herd's size was 3,800 caribou.
19 April 2024 | Nunatsiaq 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

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

Quebec Cree and Innu leaders agree to reduce caribou harvest after summer wildfires

Cree and Innu leaders are reducing the number of caribou that Innu hunters can harvest from the Leaf River herd on Cree lands to 50, from a previously agreed figure of 300. The reduction is due to concerns about the impacts of recent forest fires in the herd's range. "...we must offer the caribou the opportunity to recover and adapt, especially amid growing climate challenges." said Chief Daisy House, of the Cree community of Chisasibi.The Leaf River herd numbers about 190,000 animals, down from imore than 600,000 in 2000.  
26 January 2024 | cbc north

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

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

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

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

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

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 George River caribou herd is still vulnerable — but the newest census has cause for optimism

A news story based on a release from the government of Newfoundland nad Labrador showing that the George River herd has declined again after a slight rise in numbers two years ago. The story notes that despite the decline in numbers, more adult caribou were present in the last count, and that is some cause for optimism about the herd's future.
28 November 2022 | cbc

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

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

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

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

A story about how British Columbia has restricted caribou and moose hunting in part of the province in response to a 2021 court ruling on the treaty rights of First Nation. "The court said the province failed to maintain the nation's rights to hunt, fish and trap without interference. While no single project had a devastating effect on the community, the court said the cumulative impact of a series of projects limited the nation's ability to maintain its rights." Critics quoted in the story say the province has failed to deal with the larger problem of cumulative effects of industrial impacts.
24 May 2022 | CBC

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

Death threat aimed at chief of B.C. First Nation over proposed changes to moose, caribou hunting

A news story about how proposed changes to hunting regulations have resulted in death threats against members of a First Nation. The proposed changes follow a court ruling that treaty agreements have been violated due to cumative effects of development on populations of caribou and other animals.
28 March 2022 | CBC

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

Sharing the Bounty

A news story discussing the "Traditional Mutual Understanding" between Cree and Innu First Nations giving Innu hunters permission to harvest up to 300 caribou from the Leaf River herd on Cree territory this winter. The story outines some of the protocols to be followed in the hunt.
23 February 2022 | Toronto Star

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

Cree and Innu sign agreement over caribou harvest in Cree territory

A news story about the agreement between Cree and Innu First Nations allowing Innu communities to hunt caribou on Cree territory. The Innu communities can take 2300 caribou this year under the terms of the agreement. the caribou come from the Leaf River herd. The George River herd on which the Innu communities had previously relied is at only one percent of it's peak recoreded population in 1990, and hunting the herd is banned. "For us, this community hunt will not only meet a need for our Elders' food security, but also perpetuate a sharing relationship that dates back to time immemorial," said Chief Mike McKenzie, Chief of the Innu community of Uashat Mak Mani-utenam and spokesperson for the nine Innu communities.
31 January 2022 | CBC North

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

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

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

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)

ENR seeking information on wasted caribou in Aklavik

A news story about finding wasted caribou meat near Aklavik, NWT. Stories from earleir this year taked about wasted caribou meat in the Yellowknife region.
3 May 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)

Ulukhaktok asked not to hunt caribou until July 15

The Hunters and Trappers Association in the Victoria Island community of Ulukhaktok (NWT) has asked people to voluntarily hold off on hunting the Dolphin and Union caribou herd until calving is over this year. The unique herd migrates across the sea ice between the mainland and Victoria Island. At last count, the herd was down to about 4,000 animals. 
13 April 2021 | Cabin Radio (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

Innu caribou hunt sparks debate over territorial and hunting rights in Quebec

A 2:32 video story about an Innu hunt of the the Leaf River Caribou herd in northern Quebec. Other First Nations question the right of the Innu to hunt caribou in this region, although they don't seem to question the sustainability of the hunt.
18 February 2021 | APTN

The delicate art of stabilizing Yukon’s Fortymile caribou herd

A feature-length article on the new management plan for the Fortymile caribou herd in Yukon. The article talks about the role of hunting in managing the herd size, and the comanagement plans for the herd split between the Yukon government and the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation.
21 December 2020 | The Narwhal

Agreement signed for Fortymile caribou herd management plan

A story about the signing of an agreement between the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation and the Yukon government on a management plan for the Fortymile caribou herd. The herd has been increasing, and management includes an allowable harvest. According to Yukon's Environment Minister, the management plan has three main goals, "promote a robust, sustainable population that will maximize the herd’s use of habitats within historical Yukon ranges; provide a phased approach to implementing harvest, given the long history of no-harvest of this herd; and increase knowledge and use of the herd through education and engagement."
15 December 2020 | yukon news

Kitikmeot caribou herd survey complete; interim hunting limit decision still under review

This nes story talk about a new survey being done on the Dolphin and Union Caribou herd. it also mentions that a proposed harvest limit on the herd is still not confirmed.
15 December 2020 | Nunavut News

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

Hunting restrictions imposed after another Nunavut caribou herd dwindles

This news story talks about hunting restrictions being placed on the Dolphin and Union herd in Nunavut. The unique herd that migrates between the Victoria island and the mainland saw its population drop to about 4,000 in the last (2018) survey. The new quota allows people from local communities to take 42 caribou. Last year, just one community took as many as 200.
12 November 2020 | cbc north

Nunavut premier hears discontent over caribou quotas and meat sales at NTI meeting

News story from a meeting of the Nunavut land claim organization, Nunavut Tunggavik Incorporated. It cover discussions over quotas for caribou herds, and about the sustainability of selling of caribou meat between regions in Nunavut. Nunavut's premier points out that the right to sell or barter wild food is written into the Nunavut claim, so it is not something his government can regulate. 
21 October 2020 | Nunatsiaq news

Nunavut government limits hunting of Dolphin and Union caribou

The Nunavut government has restricted hunting of the Dolphin and Union herd to 42 animals this year, due to steep declines in the herd's size. The herd is classified as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
10 September 2020 | Nunatsiaq 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

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

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

Inuit government renews call to respect ban on George River caribou harvest in Atlantic Canada

A 2020 news story about Nunatsiavut (northern Labrador Inuit region) beneficiaries and restrictions on caribou hunting.
28 January 2020 | RCI

Nunavut government asks to lower caribou hunt on Bluenose East herd, ban Bathurst harvest

A 2020 news story about the Nunavut government proposal to lower hunting quotas on the Bluenose-East herd, and eliminate the quota for the Bathurst herd. The story talks about community hardships that would result from the quota changes, and potential increased pressure on the Dolphin and Union herd.
13 January 2020 | CBC

Arctic Canada: Nunavut government asks to lower caribou hunt, which could impact local communities

A 2020 news story about the impacts of proposed changes to the total allowable harvest for Bluenose-East and Bathurst caribou herds. The story focuses on the Nunavut community of Kugluktuk.
13 January 2020 | CBC

First Nation bans Indigenous harvest of declining caribou herd in northern Quebec

The Cree Nation Government has voted in favour of a ban on Cree hunters harvesting caribou from the George River herd, whose numbers have seen a decline of 99 per cent since 2001.
8 January 2020 | Radio Canada International

Parties celebrate caribou management accord

Five Indigenous governments with a cultural connection to the Porcupine caribou have signed off on a new approach to manage the harvest if the herd gets into trouble.
28 August 2019 | Whitehorse Daily Star

Let them pass: PCMB recommends hunters stop harvesting Porcupine caribou during migration

Hunters are being urged to lay off harvesting Porcupine caribou so that the herd can make it to its traditional winter range.
7 August 2019 | Yukon News

Nunavut government appeals decision to halt case against Igloolik hunter

The Government of Nunavut says that the territory’s chief justice “erred” when he let an Igloolik hunter off the hook for illegally harvesting a caribou during the 2015 Baffin Island caribou ban.
30 July 2019 | Nunatsiaq News

Tradition versus technology: Northerners debate use of drones in caribou hunting

New N.W.T. wildlife regulations in effect since July 1 defer decision on drone use
8 July 2019 | CBC

Nunavut’s biggest caribou herd still faces downward trend, warns report

A 2019 news story on the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq herds that talks about the difficulty of tracking hunting numbers especially due to online sales of caribou meat. It is also critical of increased mineral exploration.
10 January 2019 | Nunatsiaq News

Population monitoring: Leaf River migratory caribou herd

The Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) has released updated population information on the Leaf River migratory caribou herd. As of November 2018, the data show that the population is still declining.
13 December 2018 | CNW Quebec

Another Nunavut caribou herd faces decline

A 2016 news story about the Nunavut Government’s concern about Internet-driven sales of caribou meat.
4 March 2016 | Nunatsiaq News

Related resources

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.

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)

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)

Usage: Non-commercial with attribution
Format: web

Barren-groundBathurstManaging huntingHunting

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.

Public Advisory: George River Caribou Population Remains at a Vulnerable Low

A brief news release from the government of Newfoundland and Labrador on the results of a count of the George River caribou herd. The count, conducted jointly with the Government of Quebec and the Nunatsiavut Government, found that the herd had declined again after a slight rise in numbers two years ago. It now stands at an estimated 7,200, a 98% drop from its numbers on 2001.

Honouring the ways of our ancestors, the Cree and Innu Nations sign a traditional understanding built from the customary values of sharing, sustainable harvest and respect for the caribou

This 3 page news release outlines the terms of an agreement between the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee (James Bay region of Northern Quebec) and the Innu Nation of Québec on sharing caribou resources in the region. The release notes, "In the last decade, the many Indigenous nations that depend on caribou for their food security and the preservation of their culture have been significantly impacted by the decline of caribou populations, especially those depending on the George River herd - last estimated in 2020 to have dropped to 8,100 animals." The agreement gives the nine Innu communities access to caribou in Cree territory, up to 300 animals in 2021-22.

Usage: Non-commercial with attribution
Format: web

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Closure of Baffin Island Caribou harvest

A brief news release from the government of Nunavut announcing the closure of hunting for caribou on Baffin Island as hunters have used the 250 tags in the total allowable harvest. The last population estimate for the Baffin herd in 2014 put the number at 4,652. 

Usage: Non-commercial with attribution
Format: web

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

Usage: Non-commercial with attribution
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Managing huntingRange managementClimate changeHuman disturbanceHunting

“We’re Made Criminals Just to Eat off the Land”: Colonial Wildlife Management and Repercussions on Inuit Well-Being

This academic article looks at management of the Mealy Mountain Herd of woodland caribou in Nunatsiavut (Labrador), and the impacts of the management on Inuit in the nearby community of Rigolet. While the herd is not not covered by this site, the article raises issues of the exclusion of local people from meaningful input into management of the herd that have echoes across the northern caribou range. It concludes, "...the multi-generational and enduring negative effects of exclusionary and discriminatory Western management policies, enacted with little to no Indigenous involvement or consideration, is clear in this research, and illustrates not only the limitations of many western approaches to wildlife management, but the need for rectification and redress."

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Interview on Advisory Committee for Cooperation on Wildlife Management

Ever wonder how different jurisdictions cooperate on caribou management? Here's one example. An interview with Jody Pellissey, Executive Director of the Wekʼèezhìi Renewable Resources Board about the Advisory Committee for Cooperation on Wildlife Management (ACCWM). It was created to share information and coordinate wildlife management between wildlife management boards in the NWT and Nunavut, with a particular focus on the management of transboundary caribou herds.


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)

advisory committee for cooperation on wildlife management

This is the site for the Advisory Committee for Cooperation on Wildlife Management. It was established to exchange information, help develop cooperation and consensus, and make recommendations regarding wildlife and wildlife habitat issues that cross land claim and treaty boundaries in the Northwest Territories. The committee includes the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (NWT), Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board, Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę Gots’ę́ Nákedı (Sahtú Renewable Resources Board), Wek’èezhìi Renewable Resources Board, Kitikmeot Regional Wildlife Board, and Tuktut Nogait National Park Management Board. The ACCWM covers three caribou herds, the Bluenose east and west herds, and Cape Bathurst.

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)

Statutory Report on Wildlife to the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut

A 2018 report to the Nunavut Legislative on the state of wildlife in the territory. It includes a table (pp. 77-78) that lists “estimated demand for caribou, by herd, and the estimated level of capacity of that species to meet the demand.” The table shows that in many cases, demand exceeds capacity.
Government of Nunavut (2018)

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Managing hunting

Cumulative Effects

This 10-minute video is part three of the "You can make a difference" video produced by the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board.
Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board (2017)

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The Importance of Harvest Reporting

This 8-minute video is part two of the "You can make a difference" video produced by the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board  
Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board (2017)

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The Importance of Respectful Harvest

This 12 minute video is part one of the "You can make a difference" video produced by the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board.
Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board (2017)

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Management Plan for Peary Caribou in Nunavut

A 2017 lengthy Nunavut government submission to the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board on a management plan for Peary Caribou in Nunavut. The plan was to run from 2014-2020. It divides the caribou in Nunavut into nine different management units, and makes recommendations on harvest for each unit, and some other management actions that cover the whole population. Also includes a lot of feedback from community sources as it includes a consultation report.

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A long time ago in the future: caribou and the people of Ungava

This document is the 2017 Ungava Peninsula Caribou Aboriginal Round Table strategy, devised by the several indigenous governments and organizations that share the herds. It has five action plans, listed in order of priority: 1) Indigenous Sharing Agreement; 2) Research and Monitoring Plan; 3) Habitat Management and Environmental Impact Plan; 4) Stewardship,Engagement, and Communication Plan; and, 5) Social and Economic Plan
NunatuKavut Community Council (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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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)

Technical Report on Cape Bathurst, Bluenose-West and Bluenose-East Caribou Herds

A 90-page 2016 report presenting scientific knowledge and status of the Cape Bathurst, BluenoseWest and Bluenose-East caribou herds and gaps in knowledge.  One of two companion documents to "Taking Care of Caribou: The Cape Bathurst, Bluenose-West and Bluenose-East Caribou Herds Management Plan"
Government of the Northwest Territories (2016)

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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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)

Engaging Bluenose Caribou Communities

This lengthy 2014 report contain notes from all the community meetings that fed into the management plan for three herds (Bluenose-East and West and Cape Bathurst). It is the result of consultation sessions in 17 communities in the NWT and Nunavut. It contains much Indigneous knowledge about the caribou, but the report cautions that it “...should not be seen as a complete record of the traditional and community knowledge that exists about these caribou.”
Wekʼèezhìi Renewable Resources Board (WRRB) (2014)

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)

Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Plan 2013-2022

A 117-page plan published in 2014, that lays out management for the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq herds. There are also shorter summary versions of this plan available on the management board's website.
Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board (2013)

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Three Decades of Caribou Recovery Programs in Yukon: A Paradigm Shift in Wildlife Management

A relatively brief paper published by the Yukon government in 2009, it summarizes the experience of the managing five different Yukon herds (mostly non-migratory). It suggests that both harvest management and wolf management have been effective methods, and emphasises that managing impacts on herds, such as development and harvest impacts are preferable to costly recovery programs
Yukon Department of Environment (2009)

Tuktu- 10- The Caribou Hunt

A 1968 National Film Board of Canada production, this 14 minute film shows traditional caribou hunting techniques of the Netsilik Inuit
National Film Board (1968)

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Hunting caribou in the fall

A 4':05" video on traditional knowledge of Inuit regarding hunting caribou in the fall. In Inuktitut with English subtitles.
Government of Nunavut

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Managing hunting

Bathurst Caribou Range Plan - Response

A response by Canadian Arctic Resources Committee to the Bathurst Herd Range Plan
Canadian Arctic Resources Committee (CARC)

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