Barren-ground Caribou

Porcupine Herd


The Porcupine caribou herd range includes the Northwest Territories (NWT), Yukon and Alaska, with the calving grounds located along the Arctic coast in Alaska and Yukon. Much of the herd’s calving and post-calving ranges exist within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the North Slope in Alaska.


The latest population estimate of the Porcupine caribou herd is 218,000 (2017), up from 197,000 animals in 2013. It is currently the only herd in North America at its recorded maximum. However, the relatively low reproductive rate of the herd means it is more vulnerable to the impacts of increased mortality than other herds in northern Canada, and could have a hard time recovering during periods of low numbers.


Management of this international herd is guided by two co-management boards: the International Porcupine Caribou Board and the Porcupine Caribou Management Board (PCMB) in Canada, which includes representation from the Gwich’in Tribal Council, Inuvialuit Game Council, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Na-cho Nyäk Dün, GNWT, Government of Canada and Yukon Government.

Members of the PCMB have taken a number of actions to protect the Porcupine caribou herd and its habitat in Canada. These include:

  • Establishment of Ivvavik National Park, under the Inuvaluit Final Agreement, to protect the calving grounds of the herd in Canada
  • Land withdrawal of the Yukon North Slope west of the Babbage River, under the Inuvialuit Final Agreement
  • Establishment of Vuntut National Park, under the Vuntut Gwitchin Final Agreement in Yukon
  • Development of a Harvest Management Plan and Implementation Plan, which coordinate management actions for the herd according to its size and status.
  • Continued participation and support for the PCMB
  • Areas identified under the Aklavik Community Conservation Plan where no development is allowed, due to extreme cultural and renewable resource significance and sensitivity