Bathurst Caribou Management Plan Developed by Co-management Partners to Support Recovery of the Herd

News Releases

Yellowknife — December 21, 2021

A new management plan for supporting recovery of the Bathurst caribou herd is now in-place.

The Bathurst Caribou Management Plan, developed by the Bathurst Caribou Advisory Committee, provides guidance for the recovery and sustainable management of the Bathurst caribou herd. The Bathurst Caribou Advisory Committee is made up of representatives from 14 public and Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations.

The goal of the plan is to guide the short-term recovery and long-term resilience of the Bathurst herd. It seeks to achieve its goal through the following objectives:

  • Harvest: Support sustainable and culturally respectful harvesting of caribou.
  • Habitat & Disturbance: Manage land use and disturbance to caribou so the herd is conserved within its natural range.
  • Predators: Use scientific and Indigenous knowledge to manage the impact of predators on caribou in a way that respects northern values.
  • Research & Monitoring:  Monitor the state of the Bathurst caribou and their habitat using scientific, traditional, and local knowledge.
  • Communication & Education: Strengthen awareness and support for Bathurst caribou conservation, culturally respectful harvesting, and land use.

Caribou are a shared resource, and the management plan outlines specific actions that all parties should take to help the Bathurst herd recover.

These actions are based on herd status – which considers the number of caribou in the herd, and whether the population is increasing or decreasing.

Stronger actions are taken to protect the Bathurst herd if it is decreasing or if herd numbers are low. If herd numbers are increasing or high, actions will be adjusted to reflect the health of the herd.

Herd status and management actions will be reviewed annually by the Bathurst Caribou Advisory Committee to make sure we are on the right track.

Current status of Bathurst caribou management

The Bathurst herd status has been at critical low since 2015. Actions identified in the plan that are currently in-place include:

  • Harvesting restrictions (through the Mobile No Hunting Zone in the NWT)
  • Predator management
  • Habitat management
  • Research and monitoring

A range plan has been in-place since 2019 and guides the management of habitat to ensure the herd is supported..


“Caribou have helped to sustain people in the NWT for centuries. Today they face many natural, and human caused stressors throughout their life cycle. Our government is working with co-management partners to monitor and manage the Bathurst herd, and yet this herd is still in serious trouble. This management plan is critical to supporting its recovery over the long-term.”

- Shane Thompson, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources

Quick facts

  • The Bathurst caribou herd has undergone a significant decline – with a decrease of roughly 98% since 1986.   
  • Recommendations in the Plan are based on the following herd status categories:
  • Critical low – less than 30,000 animals
  • Low and increasing – between 30-100,000 animals
  • Medium and increasing – between 100,000 and 350,000 animals
  • High – more than 350,000
  • Medium and decreasing – between 100,000 and 350,000
  • Low and decreasing – between 30,000 and 100,000
  • The Bathurst Caribou Management Plan builds upon the habitat and range recommendations from the Bathurst Caribou Range Plan to provide a coordinated approach to caribou management.
  • The Bathurst Caribou Advisory Committee includes:
    • Public Governments
      • Government of the Northwest Territories
      • Government of Nunavut
    • Indigenous Governments and Indigenous Organizations
      • Tłı̨chǫ Government
      • Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
      • Athabasca Denesųłiné Néné Land Corporation
      • Yellowknives Dene First Nation
      • Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation
      • Northwest Territories Métis Nation
      • North Slave Métis Alliance
      • Salt River First Nation
      • Deninu K'ue First Nation
    • Other Management Authorities
      • Wek’èezhìı Renewable Resources Board
      • Kitikmeot Regional Wildlife Board
      • Kugluktuk Angoniatit Association (Hunters and Trappers Organization)
      • Umingmaktok Hunters and Trappers Organization (Bay Chimo)
      • Burnside Hunters and Trappers Organization (Bathurst Inlet)
      • Ekaluktutialik Hunters and Trappers Organization (Cambridge Bay)
      • Parks Canada

Related links


For media requests, please contact:

Mike Westwick

Manager, Communications and Public Affairs

Environment and Natural Resources

Government of the Northwest Territories