Boreal Caribou Framework
Boreal caribou are a distinct population of woodland caribou. Woodland caribou are larger animals than barren-ground caribou. Their coat is brown in summer and greyish in winter. Their throat, belly and rump are white in all seasons.
Boreal caribou are distinguished from northern mountain caribou (the other type of woodland caribou) by their different habitat preferences and behaviour. Boreal caribou live in the forests east of the Mackenzie Mountains, prefer to stay within the forest year-round, and do not migrate. Boreal caribou females space out for calving; by spacing out throughout the forest they reduce the risk of predation. Boreal caribou startle easily, move quickly and are very elusive.
The status of Boreal Caribou is currently set at Threatened under the Federal Species at Risk Act (2003), as well as the territorial Species at Risk (NWT) Act (2014) due to continued population declines across Canada. These declines can be linked to habitat changes due to industrial activities including logging, seismic activities, roads, as well as wildfires. While the NWT herds are considered generally healthy, it is important to maintain careful management of habitat disturbance to avoid further impacts to herd health and vitality.
The Government of the Northwest Territories recently released A Framework for Boreal Caribou Range Planning, which was developed by the Boreal Caribou Range Plan Framework Working Group, which included the WRRB, and was followed by public engagement and consultation periods on various platforms including the WRRB’s website. It is intended to inform the development of five regional range plans in the Northwest Territories. These five regions will be used to determine how habitat will be allocated and taken care of for Boreal Caribou in the territory. The intention of this Framework is to ensure consistency by addressing:
- Regional thresholds for habitat disturbance;
- What kinds of actions are recommended for different levels of disturbance;
- How to decide which areas should have more intensive management actions; and
- How those actions could be implemented.
Developing range plans is a great tool to help support the recovery of boreal caribou through management of activities in and around their habitat. In Wek'èezhìı, fire disturbance covers 33.7% of the landscape while human disturbance covers only 0.8%. Work will begin later this fall for the Wek'èezhìı Range Plan. For further details, please see the attached documentation.
 Summary A Framework for Boreal Caribou Range Planning (August 2019)