Barren-ground Caribou

Bathurst Herd


The Bathurst caribou is named for Bathurst Inlet, the general area of the herd’s traditional calving grounds.

They are part of the barren-ground caribou, a key northern species. Caribou have shaped the cultural identity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples over millennia through mutual relationships built on respect.

Bathurst Caribou
Bathurst Caribou


The Bathurst caribou range (or use of habitat) extends from southern and central Northwest Territories (NWT) to the Bathurst Inlet in Nunavut. In some years, they have wintered as far south as northern Saskatchewan.


The Bathurst caribou herd has suffered a dramatic decline in numbers from a high of roughly 470,000 in the mid-1980s to a low of about 6,240 today. In the latest population counts, the overall rate of decline has slowed from what was seen before 2018. Some indicators like how many cows (females) survive, and how many calves there are compared to cows have improved. However, the situation remains serious.

Population surveys since 2003 indicate a rapid decline in the population size. The rate of decline has slowed compared to counts prior to 2018, but the situation remains serious.  

2003               186,000 animals

2006               128,000 animals

2009                32,000 animals

2012                35,000 animals

2015                20,000 animals

2018                8,200 animals

2021                6,240 animals

Recovery and Conservation Actions