Caribou de la toundra

NWT Barren-ground Caribou Management Strategy

What is the NWT Barren-ground Caribou Management Strategy?

The Northwest Territories Barren-ground Caribou Management Strategy, 2011-2015 provides overall guidance for the management, continued recovery and long-term sustainability of Northwest Territories (NWT) barren-ground caribou herds.

The Strategy emphasizes partnerships, collection of sound information for caribou management, management of factors affecting herd size, public education and compliance and maximizing benefits for all NWT residents. 

As of 2018, only two herds that spend part or all of their time in the NWT had populations that were increasing (Porcupine and Cape Bathurst). The Bathurst, Bluenose-East, Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula and Qamanirjuaq herds were declining based on surveys in 2017 and 2018. The Beverly and Ahiak herds were last surveyed in 2011 and their status is uncertain. The Bluenose-West herd is stable at low numbers.

As most herds are declining and some are at very low numbers compared to peak abundance, measures to help recovery and long-term sustainability are still needed.

Priority actions

The NWT Management Strategy identifies priority actions. These include: 

  • Completing management plans for and inter-jurisdictional agreements for the herds

  • Increasing capacity for involvement by Aboriginal governments

  • Monitoring herd size, trend, and key indicators for all herds

  • Monitoring and managing harvest

  • Monitoring effects of predation on caribou

  • Monitoring and managing cumulative effects

  • Developing best practices for industry

  • Managing habitat in relation to forest fires and land use activities

  • Promoting traditional practices and hunter education

  • Supporting research that helps explain trends in caribou numbers


Successful implementation of the NWT Barren-ground Caribou Management Strategy requires extensive cooperation with communities and active participation by Indigenous governments in management. 

The Government of the Northwest Territories continues to work cooperatively with Indigenous government, co-management boards, caribou management boards, the Government of Canada and neighbouring jurisdictions to ensure long term sustainability of barren-ground caribou herds.