Protecting the boreal woodland caribou’s remaining boreal forest habitat is a priority for CPAWS in the NWT and across the country. Protecting boreal woodland caribou also helps protect one of the world's largest remaining carbon reserves (the boreal forest), slowing the effects of climate change.

Our work is currently focused on boreal woodland caribou, but there are five types of caribou in the NWT. All have great cultural and economic importance to the majority of NWT communities.

Caribou in the NWT
Type                 Location            Description            Federal SARA Listing NWT SARA Listing
Northern Mountain Mackenzie Mountains • migrate seasonally in elevation
• gather in large groups during late spring
Special Concern (2005) In process
Boreal Forests east of Mackenzie Mountains • do not migrate
• live in small groups in boreal forest
Threatened (2003) Threatened (2014)
Peary Arctic Archipelago and on Banks and Victoria Islands • no large migration
• live in small groups
• smaller than barren-ground caribou
Endangered (2011) Threatened (2014)
Dolphin + Union Arctic Archipelago • migrate annually across Dolphin + Union Strait
• similar to, but genetically distinct from Peary caribou
Special Concern (2011) Assessed as Special Concern (2013)
Barrenground Across NWT • migrate seasonally through NWT, Nunavut and other provinces
• most numerous of all NWT caribou





Environment Canada released the final Recovery Strategy for boreal woodland caribou in October 2012. Related to this listing, the NWT government has developed a Five Year Action Plan Action for Boreal Woodland caribou.

A draft Barren-Ground Caribou Management Strategy for the NWT is also available from the GNWT.

The threat

The biggest threat to boreal woodland caribou is human activity. Woodland caribou are dependent on mature forests that support the growth of lichens they eat. They are extremely sensitive to both natural disturbance (such as forest fires) and human disturbance, and to habitat damage and fragmentation brought about by resource exploration, road building, and other human activity. New forest growth following destruction of vegetation provides habitat and food for other ungulates, which in turn attracts more predators, putting pressure on woodland caribou.

What CPAWS is doing

CPAWS-NWT is dedicated to establishing a network of culturally significant and ecologically representative protected areas in the Mackenzie Valley, as a partner in the NWT Protected Areas Strategy, which will play a critical role in protecting woodland caribou habitat. Additionally, our work to expand Nahanni National Park Reserve to include the Dehcho portion of the South Nahanni watershed and karstlands means critical habitat for three northern mountain woodland caribou herds is protected.

We are continuing to work to protect woodland caribou habitat through:

Take Action

Sign the pledge for caribou
Sign the pledge for caribou
Canda's woodland caribou are in trouble. Help protect their boreal forest home—before it's too late.
Add your voice now!

Stay updated

Never miss your chance to make a difference! Enter your e-mail address here to get CPAWS news and actions delivered right to your inbox.