Species Profile

Caribou Northern Mountain population

Scientific Name: Rangifer tarandus
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
COSEWIC Range: Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2014
COSEWIC Status: Special Concern
COSEWIC Status Criteria:
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This population occurs in 45 subpopulations ranging from west-central British Columbia to the Yukon and western Northwest Territories. Almost all of its distribution is in Canada, where it numbers about 43,000 - 48,000 mature individuals. There is little long-term (three generations) trend information, and many current estimates are based on survey data more than 5 years old. Currently 2 subpopulations are thought to be increasing, 7 are stable and 9 are declining. The condition of the remaining 27 subpopulations is unknown. The two largest subpopulations comprise > 15,000 animals, or 26-29% of the estimated population, and are thought to be stable. About half of the 45 subpopulations each contain < 500 individuals. All stable or increasing subpopulations are located in the northern part of the range, whereas 9 in the southern part of the range have declined by 27% since the last assessment. The status of northern subpopulations may be compromised in the future because of increasing threats, particularly land use change with industrial development causing shifts in predator-prey dynamics.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: The Northern Mountain population was designated Not at Risk in May 2000. This population was formerly designated as part of the "Western population" (now de-activated). Status re-examined and designated Special Concern in May 2002. Following the Designatable Unit report on Caribou (COSEWIC 2011), a new population structure was proposed and accepted by COSEWIC. This new Northern Mountain population is composed of all 36 subpopulations in the previous Northern Mountain population of Woodland Caribou in addition to 9 subpopulations from the previous (2002) Southern Mountain population of Woodland Caribou. The Northern Mountain population was designated Special Concern in May 2014.
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2003-06-05

No schedule - No Status

Individuals of this species may be protected under Schedule 1 under another name; for more information see Schedule 1, the A-Z Species List, or if applicable, the Related Species table below.

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Related Species

Woodland Caribou ( Northern Mountain population ) Non-active Special Concern
Woodland Caribou ( Southern Mountain population ) Non-active Threatened

Quick Links: | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents


Federal Protection

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.



PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

2 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Caribou Rangifer tarandus, Northern Mountain population, Central Mountain population and Southern Mountain population in Canada (2015-01-13)

    All the world’s caribou and reindeer belong to a single species, Rangifer tarandus, and are found in arctic and subarctic regions as well as in northern forests. Caribou that occur in the western mountainous region of Canada are largely brown in colour with a white mane. Mature females and males usually weigh 110-150 kg and 160-210 kg, respectively. Both males and females grow antlers, although some females may lack these. A distinctive characteristic is large, rounded hooves that reduce sinking in snow and wetlands and act as shovels when digging for food under snow. Western mountain caribou have played an important role for Aboriginal peoples as well as for early fur traders and settlers. A majority of the current range is in Canada in the Northern Mountain, Central Mountain and Southern Mountain populations. Northern and Central Mountain Caribou both inhabit shallow snow areas in winter where they forage primarily for terrestrial lichens, but differ in their genetic makeup and evolutionary origin. Southern Mountain Caribou are distinct from other mountain caribou in that they have adapted to living in a deep snow environment where they forage primarily for arboreal lichens in winter.

Related Information

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) Listing Plan 2016 to 2018 (2017-09-29)

    The status of wildlife species is assessed by an independent panel of expert Canadian scientists, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 149 terrestrial species were assessed as at-risk by COSEWIC between 2009 and 2016 and are eligible for listing under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to be considered by the Governor-in-Council (GIC) on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment: 86 species would be new additions, 54 currently listed species would be reclassified and 9 species would be updated to reflect changes in their recognized designatable units. A three-year listing plan has been developed to address all 149 terrestrial species and listing decisions for most species are anticipated by the end of 2018. Making amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA is a two-step process. The first step is for the GIC to propose an amendment through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day public comment period. The second step is for the GIC to make a final decision on whether or not to make amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA, taking into consideration comments received during the 30-day public comment period. The amendments are made through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. Both orders are accompanied by a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) which presents the implications of listing the species or changing their status. Publishing this plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency about the Government of Canada’s plan to make listing decisions under the Species at Risk Act. NOTE: The information presented below is intended to provide openness and transparency with respect to when terrestrial species might be considered for listing under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. It is intended to assist anyone who may wish to provide comments on such listing considerations. Given any number of factors can affect the timing of a listing decision; the Plan is subject to change. Accordingly, the Plan will be periodically updated.
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