The Northwest Territories (NWT) Species at Risk Committee (SARC) met via conference call on April 22, 2020 to assess the status of northern mountain caribou in the NWT.
SARC determined that northern mountain caribou is a species of Special Concern in the NWT, reflecting its vulnerability to climate change and human disturbance. Ice patch habitat, used to escape insects and cool down in the summer, is declining noticeably in the Mackenzie and Selwyn mountains in response to climate change. The continuing loss of this critical habitat component is very concerning. Other threats, including disrespectful harvesting, recreation activities, and resource development are expected to have measurable negative impacts in significant portions of the range, including within the calving and summering range of the Redstone herd, the largest herd in the NWT. Overall, if the effects of climate change continue within their habitat and human impacts are not managed effectively, the species has the potential to become Threatened in the NWT.
SARC recommends enhancing monitoring and updating population estimates to ensure that if there are any population declines, they can be detected effectively. Implementing safeguards to limit habitat damage and reduce disrespectful harvesting behaviours in areas of the range with road access will be important to minimize and prevent future population declines. It is important to implement protective measures identified in the Doi T'oh Territorial Park and CANOL Heritage Trail Management Plan and to protect those portions of the range outside of Nááts’ı̨hch’oh National Park Reserve that are significant for caribou survival.
Details of the 2020 assessment and more information on northern mountain caribou can be found here: https://www.nwtspeciesatrisk.ca/SARC/completed-assessment.