Managing predators

Wolves are the major predator on Arctic caribou, and are the only predator that has seen targeted management action in the Canadian Arctic.

One government is paying bounties to hunters who kill wolves. The government of the Northwest Territories is paying up to $1,950 for  a wolf depending on the fur grade. This payment only applies to wolves killed in a particular area where the Bathurst and Bluenose-East caribou herds have been wintering. Elsewhere in the territory, the payment for  wolves is up to $950. Wolves were once more frequently hunted and trapped for their fur. The decline in the demand for furs has reduced the harvest.  The government of Nunavut is also paying hunters for wolf samples, but the payments are lower and are not specifically targeted to removing wolves from caribou habitat.

The effectiveness of wolf control for migratory caribou herds is less certain than wolf management on more static herds. When the herd sticks to a particular range, the local wolf population is more easily defined. When herds migrate through the territory of different wolf packs and into the range of other caribou herds, it is much harder to keep track of all the different wolf packs they may encounter.

Wolf control does not always mean killing wolves. In Alaska/Yukon, the numbers of the Fortymile herd rebounded (and it regained its previous migratory behaviour) when members of resident wolf packs in Alaska were sterilized. The packs were large enough to maintain their territory, preventing other wolves from coming in, but their impact on the caribou herd decreased. Sterilization programs are often undertaken in association with other management members (such as changes in hunting levels) so it is difficult to assess the success of sterilization alone. In the case of the Fortymile herd, following the sterilization program, the State of Alaska moved to shooting wolves instead, a program it carried on from 2004-2018. It’s now undertaking a five-year study period to see the effect of stopping the wolf control. A recent paper suggests that neither form of wolf control had a significant impact on the herd’s size.

 

Related news

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

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

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

Researchers watching the balance between Nunavik’s wolves and caribou

The Quebec government is responding to reports of increasing wolf predation on the Leaf River herd by satellite collaring wolves to track their level of caribou predation. The story also mentions that the provincial government is working on a management plan for the Leaf River herd.
26 May 2020 | Nunatsiaq News

Tlicho, N.W.T. govt's submit joint wolf management plan to support caribou recovery

A 2020 news story on a proposed new wolf management plan affecting the Bluenose-East and Bathurst herds.
3 February 2020 | CBC

Where are the wolves? Satellite collaring planned for wolves on caribou winter range

a 2020 news story about collaring wolves associated with the Beverly/Ahiak, Bathurst and Bluenose-east herds.
31 January 2020 | CBC

Killing wolves won't save caribou herds, experts say

A 2019 news story quoting two biologists who argue that wolf predation is not the major problem in driving the current caribou declines
27 February 2019 | CBC

Related resources

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.
(2020)

RECOVERY STRATEGY FOR BARREN-GROUND CARIBOU In the Northwest Territories

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)

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.
(2020)

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)

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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Format: pdf

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Action Plan for the Bluenose-East Caribou Herd

A 56-page action plan for the Bluenose-east herd prepared by the wildlife management boards with stewardship responsibilities for barren-ground caribou and their habitat in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. This is a follow-up to the 2014 management plan, "Taking Care of Caribou".
Wekʼèezhìi Renewable Resources Board (WRRB) (2017)

Action Plan for the Bluenose-West Caribou Herd

A 62-page action plan for the Bluenose-west herd prepared by the wildlife management boards with stewardship responsibilities for barren-ground caribou and their habitat in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. This is a follow-up to the 2014 management plan, "Taking Care of Caribou".
Wekʼèezhìi Renewable Resources Board (WRRB) (2017)

Action Plan for the Cape Bathurst Caribou Herd

A 62-page action plan for the Cape Bathurst herd prepared by the wildlife management boards with stewardship responsibilities for barren-ground caribou and their habitat in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. This is a follow-up to the 2014 management plan, "Taking Care of Caribou".
Wekʼèezhìi Renewable Resources Board (WRRB) (2017)

Wolf Technical Feasibility Assessment: Options for Managing Wolves on the Range of the Bathurst Barren-ground Caribou Herd

A 2017 assessment of options for wolf control on the range of the Bathurst caribou herd. Assessment criteria include humaneness, efficiency, effectiveness, and risks.
Wekʼèezhìi Renewable Resources Board (WRRB) (2017)

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)

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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)

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)

Joint Management Proposal for Bathhurst Caribou

A 2015 joint management proposal for the Bathurst caribou herd developed by the Tlicho Government and the government of the Northwest Territories. The plan covers 2016 to 2019, and recommends no harvesting of the herd, wolf control, and better monitoring of the herd
Wekʼèezhìi Renewable Resources Board (WRRB) (2015)

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)

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)

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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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)

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)

Enhanced North Slave Wolf Harvest Incentive Program

The enhanced North Slave wolf harvest program run by the Government of the Northwest Territories in the range of the Bathurst and Bluenose-East caribou herds.
Government of the Northwest Territories

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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