The Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Canada (COSEWIC)1 assesses the status of species at risk in Canada. The Species at Risk Committee (SARC) assesses the status of species at risk in the NWT. This indicator provides information on population trends for each NWT species that COSEWIC or SARC has assessed as a species at risk in Canada or in the NWT.
Trend information is noted as either “increasing”, “declining” or “stable”. Uncertainties are noted.
Information on population trends is derived from COSEWIC reports1 and SARC reports2 with updates from ENR biologists and others as noted.
For many species found in the NWT, threats to the survival of the species are more severe in areas outside the NWT than within the NWT. For some species, such as grizzly, wolverine, wood bison, peregrine falcon and boreal caribou, the people of the NWT are responsible for some of the only remaining healthy populations in North America or the world. Population status and trends for species at risk provide an overview of the current state of the most vulnerable components of northern ecosystems.
Current view: status and trend
There are 34 species or subspecies in the NWT that have been assessed as species at risk in Canada according to COSEWIC. Of these, four species – peregrine falcon, whooping crane, bowhead whales and grey whales - have increasing populations in the NWT. Seven species - Peary caribou, northern mountain caribou, Dolphin-Union barren-ground caribou, red knot, wood bison, northern leopard frog and polar bear - have some decreasing populations. Previously common species of insect-feeding birds, such as the common nighthawk, olive-sided flycatcher, rusty blackbird and bank swallow, are becoming less common. These species have declining populations throughout North America but the trend in NWT populations is uncertain. The recent trends in NWT populations of other species at risk cannot be reliably determined.
|Species at Risk||COSEWIC Status – Year of assessment||
SARC Status - Year of assessment
|Percent of global distribution in Canada||Percent of Canadian distribution in NWT||Recent trend in NWT population(s)|
|Northern Arctic, Southern Arctic, and Northern Mountain Ecozones|
|Peary Caribou||Endangered - 2004||Threatened - 2012||100%||40 - 60%||Stable at low numbers; increased in some areas|
|Northern Mountain Caribou||Special Concern - 2014||100%||20%||Stable - Uncertain|
|Dolphin-Union Barren-ground Caribou||Special Concern - 2004||Special Concern - 2013||100%||40%||Stable, likely declining|
|Collared Pika||Special Concern - 2011||60%||40%||Unknown|
|Polar Bear||Special Concern - 2008||Special Concern - 2012||50%||10%||Likely declining in one population; Stable to uncertain in to others|
|Wolverine||Special Concern – 2013||20%||25%||Stable – Declining on barren-grounds - Uncertain|
|Grizzly||Special Concern – 2012||10-20%||20%||Stable – Uncertain|
|Red Knot (rufa)1||Endangered - 2007||100% (breeding distribution)||10%||Declining|
|Red Knot (islandica)1||Special Concern - 2007||40% (breeding distribution)||20%||Unknown|
|Buff-breasted Sandpiper||Special Concern - 2012||60% (breeding distribution)||50%||Unknown|
|Peregrine Falcon (on tundra )||Special Concern - 2007||10%? (breeding distribution)||10%||Increasing|
|Eskimo Curlew||Endangered - 2009||uncertain distribution||uncertain distribution||Not seen for decades|
|Ivory Gull||Endangered - 2006||10% (breeding distribution)||0% (historical nesting site only)||Uncertain|
|Dolly Varden (northern form)||Special Concern - 2010||50%||50%||Declining - Uncertain|
|Hairy Braya||Endangered - 2013||Threatened - 2012||100%||100%||Declining|
|Nahanni Aster||Special Concern - 2014||100%||100%||Stable|
|Taiga Plains and Taiga Shield Ecozones|
|Wood Bison||Threatened - 2013||100%||60%||Declining in some herds, stable in others|
|Boreal Caribou||Threatened - 2002||Threatened - 2012||100%||10%||Declining to stable - Uncertain in some regions|
|Little Brown Myotis (Bat)||Endangered - 2013||50%||5%||Unknown|
|Northern Myotis (Bat)||Endangered - 2013||40%||1-5%||Unknown|
|Whooping Crane||Endangered - 2010||Almost 100% (breeding distribution)||90%||Increasing|
|Common Nighthawk||Threatened - 2007||37% (breeding distribution)||5-10%||Unknown|
|Barn Swallow||Threatened - 2011||5-15% (breeding distribution)||5%||Unknown|
|Bank Swallow||Threatened - 2013||5-15% (bredding distribution||5%||Unknown|
|Canada Warbler||Threatened - 2008||80% (breeding distribution||Less than 1%||Unknown|
|Olive-sided Flycatcher||Threatened - 2007||80% (breeding distribuiton)||5%||Unknown|
|Rusty Blackbird||Special Concern – 2006||Almost 100% (breeding distribution)||10%||Stable – Uncertain|
|Horned Grebe||Special Concern - 2009||80% (breeding distribution)||10%||Stable - Uncertain|
|Peregrine Falcon (in forest)||Special Concern - 2007||10% (breeding distribution)||20%||Increasing|
|Short-eared Owl||Special Concern –2008||10-30% (breeding distribution)||10%||Unknown|
|Yellow Rail||Special Concern – 2009||10% (breeding distribution)||1%||Unknown|
|Bull Trout||Special Concern - 2012||80%||10%||Unknown|
|Shortjaw Cisco||Threatened – 2003||90%||Unknown||Unknown|
|Northern Leopard Frog||Special Concern – 2009||Threatened - 2013||60%||2%||Declining - Uncertain|
|Western Toad||Special Concern – 2012||40%||Less than 1%||Unknown|
|Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee||Endangered - 2014||Less than 5%||Less than 5%||Unknown|
|Western Bumble Bee (Northern Species)||Special Concern - 2014||40-50%||Less than 5%||Unknown|
|Arctic Marine Ecozones|
|Bowhead Whale||Special Concern - 2009||30%||30%||Increasing|
|Grey Whale||Special Concern - 2004||10%||Less than 1%||Increasing|
|Northern Wolffish||Threatened - 2012||20%||uncertain distribution||Unknown|
1Red Knot (rosellari): Threatened - 2007 may be present in the NWT, but this remains unconfirmed.
Trends in populations of species at risk in the NWT are varied. Species with clearly increasing populations have either been the subject of intensive recovery efforts - peregrine falcon, wood bison, whooping crane - or the single threat to their survival has been halted for many decades - commercial hunting of bowhead whales. The reasons for continuing declines or uncertain population trends in other species at risk in the NWT differ for each species. Current threats to species at risk in the NWT include climate change, habitat use, prey declines, diseases and over-hunting. Reducing impacts of all these threats in the future will prove as challenging as in the past.
Find out more
- Trends in populations of forest-associated species at risk are indicators in the Forest Criteria and Indicators developed by the CCFM. Forest-associated species at risk are those occurring the Taiga Shield, and Taiga Plains ecozones.
- For more informaton on species at risk in Canada and species at risk in the NWT.
- See WILDLIFE for other indicators on populations of species at risk. See USE OF RENEWALBE RESOURCES for indicators on sustainable use of some species at risk.
- Estimates of percent of distribution are based on printed material and were rounded to the nearest 10%, except for values less than 10%.
- Increasing, Declining, Stable = population trends in the NWT, as measured or inferred, based on written material;
- (COSEWIC and SARC reports) Uncertain = population trends uncertain or inferred based on expert opinion only;
- Unknown = population trend is not available and has not been measured or inferred based on any source.
Found an error or have a question? Contact the team at NWTSOER@gov.nt.ca.
Ref 1 - COSEWIC. 2008. COSEWIC Webpage.
Ref 2 - SARC. Current. SARC Webpage.