Bathurst Caribou in the Contwoyto Lake area, near the N.W.T./Nunavut border. Barren ground caribou, such as the Bathurst herd, were classified Wednesday as threatened in the Northwest Territories. (Petter Jacobsen) Barren ground caribou have been added to the N.W.T.’s list of species at risk, the territory’s conference of management authorities (CMA) announced Wednesday.
The move is the latest indicator of the dwindling health of the species, which comprises more than a dozen herds stretching across Canada’s territories and the northern Prairies. Some estimates of herd populations have shown up to a 95 per cent drop from historic highs .
The species was classified as threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada in late 2016.
According to the agreement, the caribou herds included in the N.W.T.’s classification include the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula, Cape Bathurst, Bluenose West, Bluenose East, Bathurst, Beverly, Ahiak, and Qamanirjuaq herds.
The recommendation to list the species was made unanimously by the N.W.T.’s Wildlife Management Advisory Council, the Gwich’in, Sahtu, and Wek’eezhii Renewable Resources Boards, and both the Tlicho and Northwest Territories governments.
The species have been classified as threatened, meaning that they are likely to become endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors that are contributing to its population loss. The classification means that an N.W.T. recovery strategy is now required within two years.
The barren ground caribou are the latest caribou species to be added to the territory’s list of species at risk, joining the Dolphin and Union caribou, Boreal caribou, and Peary caribou.
Two species of bats, the Little Brown Myotis and Northern Myotis, were also added to the list Wednesday under the "special concern" listing, meaning that a management plan is required within two years.
In a media release announcing the moves, the CMA also announced that a consensus was reached not to add grizzly bears to the list of species at risk, citing insufficient evidence.
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