Record low caribou numbers in Bathurst herd

Caribou
Barren-ground caribou have been in serious decline in the NWT since the 1980s. (Supplied by ENR.)
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The number of caribou in the Bathurst herd has sunk to a new low. A recent survey has shown that in a span of three years, it has lost almost 12,000 animals

The range from southern and central Northwest Territories to the Bathurst Inlet in Nunavut went from roughly 20,000 in 2015 to just over 8,000 in 2018. More than 30 years ago, there were nearly 500,000.

The surveys were done on the Bathurst and Bluenose-East herds in June 2018 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The Bluenose-East herd has also declined from around 39,000 caribou three years ago to roughly over 19,000 currently.

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Robert C. McLeod mentions that caribou are a shared resource and that the Government of the Northwest Territories needs to come up with solutions that focus on the survival of caribou.

“These latest numbers make it clear we need to continue to work closely with our Indigenous partners to help protect barren-ground caribou. Strong and coordinated actions are necessary to mitigate the decline across the Northwest Territories so that caribou can continue to sustain our people for generations to come. We must consider what immediate actions each of us can take to ensure the future of these herds.”

There were some other herds that were also surveyed this summer in which the results were more positive. The Cape Bathurst herd has seen an increase of about 2,000 animals over the past three years, and the Bluenose-West herd has been holding steady at around 21,000 caribou.

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