North American Caribou Management and Research Review

Executive Summary This report was created to help the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee in their review of caribou management and research in North America. Management has become crucial for the […]

Executive Summary

This report was created to help the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee in their review of caribou management and research in North America. Management has become crucial for the future survival, health and vitality of caribou herds in North America. The cross-political boundary migration of caribou herd requires the cooperation of Canadian provincial, local, territorial and American government bodies. Agreements and management strategies are extremely important as many caribou herds are now being placed on the Species at Risk List. The role of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) is invaluable in the fight to protect North American caribou herds. Large organizations including the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board are playing a large role in the safeguarding of herds that migrate between provincial, territorial and native cultural boundaries.

The cooperation between aboriginal people who traditionally rely on these herds, conservationists, biologists, industry stakeholders, government policy makers and community members is the only way caribou herds will be managed sustainably. All interests must be considered and significant emphasis put on the importance of communication in order for the recovery, protection and management initiatives to be successful. These strategies often call for an interdisciplinary approach, reinforcing the need for communication and sharing of research and knowledge between NGOs, governments, states, scientific researchers and communities that deal directly with these outstanding animals.

This report is intended to play a role in the production of communication as I attempt to bring together research information from all caribou management boards in. Better policy decisions and future management strategies can become more successful through a more expanse

It is essential that caribou herds do not follow the path of the Woodland Caribou Dawson subspecies that was declared extinct by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in 1984. Significant factors that led to the extinction of this herd previously found on the northwestern part of Graham Island, British Columbia were speculated to include hunting and the deterioration of habitat due to climate change (SARA, 2008).

The threats to these outstanding animals include habitat destruction and fragmentation, human presence/ developmental disturbance and avoidance; unregulated hunting, diseases and predation. Since these factors are connected with other conservation efforts and regulatory boards, caribou management also involves the participation of industrial forest harvesting companies, hunting registry boards and communities. The most important key elements to determining the various caribou herd statuses and appropriate recovery strategy, involves research, continued monitoring, management and conservation.


My research begins with an identification of the caribou herds and their location in North America. The second section will include the main sources of information categorized by the different groups involved in caribou management and research. The first set of groups includes the Canadian governmental bodies (local, territorial/provincial bodies) involved in research and management. The second group includes the people and Nongovernmental organizations that are involved with the North American caribou herds. Within each group, I have included what herds they are involved with, any research material, management reports, recovery strategies, periodicals and online sources that have been produced by these groups. These documents are grouped by organization, on the attached memory stick. Important contact information and a brief précis of the information will also be included in each section.


The caribou herds in North America have historically been a part of Canadian culture. They are a beautiful species whose importance is often underestimated in today’s commercial society. I was previously unaware of the threats that many caribou herds were facing, often as a result of anthropocentric activities. It is extremely important that research and monitoring continue as the distinct migratory patterns and breeding of this animal make it very vulnerable to disturbances. It is especially critical to focus on herds that are currently Species at Risk. The Woodland caribou in North America is currently listed as ‘Threatened’. The Federal Species at Risk Act is crucial in encouraging the protection and management of the caribou species in Canada. An independent body was made responsible for classifying Canadian species that are at risk. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) was established to create reports on the important species in Canada. The documents created are given to the Minister of the Environment, where an official list of species is made by the Governor in Council (Sararegistry, 2009). This has played a large role in Canada, promoting research and to define objectives for action plans and recovery strategies for caribou herds.

I am grateful for the experience I have gained accomplishing independent research on a species that is intrinsically valuable, and yet often forgotten about by people who are not graced by their presence. I am thankful and have developed a strong appreciation for all the people who have devoted their time and lives to helping keep caribou herds in existence. The more information and communication of knowledge and research that can be accomplished, I believe will help each organization achieve their management and protection initiatives more quickly. There needs to be more government financial support as these organizations are working with a small resource base. The importance of their work should be acknowledged and supported. It has been interesting to compare the different problems and threats that each herd faces and the coordination between groups that has occurred in the conservation efforts that exist. The fact that all of these documents have been made publically accessible is important in the growing need for awareness and support by society.

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