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Strategy report to help revitalize NWT species at risk

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The Bathurst Caribou herd has shrunk as much as 98 per cent from its peak size. © GNWT/Anne Gunn

A collective of wildlife co‐management boards and governments in the Northwest Territories has come out with a strategy to revitalize barren‐ground caribou populations that includes conservation and recovery efforts. The Conference of Management Authorities released a 70‐page document in July outlining threats to caribou and guidance for protecting their herds and increasing their numbers. The strategy applies to all barren‐ground caribou herds in the NWT except for the Porcupine herd. 

The strategy’s five goals are: 

  • For groups to collaborate on the develop‐ ment and implementation of caribou monitoring and management plans. 
  • To monitor caribou, their habitat, and threats to their herds in the NWT. 
  • To complete knowledge gaps using tradi‐ tional, community and scientific knowledge. 
  • To conserve and protect caribou popula‐ tions and habitat. 
  • To educate people and promote respect for caribou, their habitat and conservation efforts. 

Though caribou herds have fluctuated in size over time, recent estimates suggest their numbers have reached historic lows. The Bathurst herd has shrunk as much as 98 per cent from its peak size. This herd has also been most affected by human activity, with 2,100 kilometres of road and dozens of exploration camps within its range. 

The declining numbers are likely due to “multiple interacting factors,” including mining and oil and gas activities, roads, wildfires, parasites, predators like wolves, and climate change. 

A progress report on caribou conservation and recovery efforts is expected every five years, with the first report due in 2026.