The Northwest Territories Species at Risk Committee met in Behchokǫ̨̀̀, Northwest Territories on December 5, 2012 and assessed the biological status of Boreal Caribou in the Northwest Territories. The assessment was based on this approved status report. The assessment process and objective biological criteria used by the Species at Risk Committee are available at www.nwtspeciesatrisk.ca.
Status: Threatened in the Northwest Territories
Likely to become endangered in the Northwest Territories if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its extirpation or extinction
Reasons for the assessment: Boreal Caribou fits criterion (c) for Threatened
(c) – There is evidence that the population size is small and there is a decline in population size such that it could disappear from the Northwest Territories in our children’s lifetime
- Boreal caribou need large tracts of undisturbed habitat so they can spread out to minimize predation risk. This adaptation results in naturally low densities across a large area, making them more vulnerable to systematic habitat fragmentation.
- Population size is small: about 5,300 mature individuals, 6,500 total population. While there is uncertainty in the estimate (e.g. in the eastern Sahtu region), it is unlikely that the total population size is larger than 10,000 in the Northwest Territories.
- Currently, there is variation across the Northwest Territories in rates and direction of population change. There are documented population declines in parts of the southern Northwest Territories where the majority of boreal caribou occur.
- Current and future threats leading to habitat fragmentation are expected to increase.
- A continuing decline in the amount of secure habitat and in population size is projected.
- There is no foreseen possibility of rescue from outside populations due to severely declining populations in Alberta and British Columbia.