Environment

Northern mountain caribou could be added to species at risk list


Public input is being sought to determine if NWT residents think northern mountain caribou should be deemed a species of special concern in the territory.

The northern mountain caribou is one of five types of caribou found across the territory. The animals typically reside in the Mackenzie Mountains area.

Barren-ground, boreal, and peary caribou are already listed as threatened, while dolphin-union caribou are listed as being of special concern.

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The Northwest Territories Species at Risk Committee (SARC) recommends the species be considered of special concern because the effects of climate change may further threaten the herd in years to come. 

A report released in April states a number of biological characteristics may make the caribou more vulnerable to climate change.

The species is cold-adapted, and its reliance on ice patch habitats poses an additional threat to population recovery in the event of a decline.

Humans are responsible for some habitat and population decline through activities like disrespectful harvesting, recreational activities, and resource development, the report adds.

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Indigenous knowledge-holders have reported declines in the herd population.

SARC says designating the caribou a species of special concern “would focus and track management efforts.”

The designation would ensure a management plan is created within two years with recovery and conservation objectives.

Harvesting of the species would still be allowed. Special concern status does not immediately introduce any changes.

Comments from the public are due by September 30.

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