Response Statements

Response Statement - Caribou, Dolphin and Union population

This Arctic caribou population is endemic to Canada, occurring in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Recognized for its unique migration pattern from Victoria Island across the sea ice to the mainland, observations have shown that its distribution has retracted and expanded since the beginning of the 20th century, in rough correspondence with population size. In the early 1900s, the herd was reported to be large, then a strong decline was likely precipitated by the introduction of firearms, combined with severe winters. A 50-60-year period of low densities and no sign of migration across the sea ice followed. The herd started to increase in the late 1970s, and resumed its migration to the mainland in the late 1980s, increasing in numbers until the 1990s. In 2015, the herd was estimated at about 18,000 animals. Three survey estimates over the last 18 years and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge suggest a decline as high as 50-60%, which appears to have accelerated since 2010. The population is experiencing multiple threats, including reduced connectivity and disrupted migration between winter and summer range associated with commercial shipping in Dease Strait that is increasingly supported by ice-breakers. Climate change is linked with decreased periods of ice cover and irregularity of sea ice conditions, causing mortality through drowning and delays in migration with consequences for nutrition and parasite burdens. Overharvest has been involved in past declines and recent exploitation levels are unknown, although access opportunities from five additional communities have increased. The spread of insect pests and pathogens as a consequence of climate change is an additional concern. Natural fluctuations of the population remain a source of uncertainty.

Consultation period: 2019-01-11 to 2019-10-14 - Send comment via email or see below for other contact information.


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Contact Person(s)

Species at Risk Public Registry Office
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 St. Joseph Boulevard
21st Floor
Gatineau, QC
K1A 0H3
Tel: 800-668-6767
Fax: 819-420-7391
Send e-mail

Related Species

  • Caribou  (Dolphin and Union population)


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