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Mammals (terrestrial)

Caribou  | Rangifer tarandus  |  Boreal population

Status: Threatened

Last Examination and Change: November 2014 (No Change)

Canadian Occurrence: YT, NT, BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, QC, NL

Status Criteria: A3bc+4abc


Reason for Designation: This population occurs at naturally low densities in mature boreal forest habitats from Labrador to Yukon, with small, isolated populations at the southern part of the range, including along the Lake Superior coastline and in the Charlevoix region of Québec. Over the past century, local subpopulations have been lost; range contraction has proceeded from the south by up to 50% of historical range in some areas. Despite considerable conservation efforts, range-wide declines have continued since the last assessment in 2002, particularly in Alberta, northeastern British Columbia, and Labrador. Some populations remain poorly monitored, particularly those in the northern portion of the range. For 37 of 51 subpopulations where trend data are available, 81% are in decline, as indicated by negative population growth rates. Some of the most intensively managed subpopulations may remain critically imperiled. Reasons for decline are mainly due to increased predation and habitat loss, the latter stemming from the combination of anthropogenic (natural resource extraction) and natural (fires) disturbance. The proliferation of linear landscape features such as roads and seismic lines facilitates predation by wolves, and the conversion of mature – old conifer stands to younger seral stages promotes increases in alternate prey such as Moose and White-tailed Deer. Shifts in the northern distribution of White-tailed Deer, mediated by landscape change, also bring novel parasites into parts of the range of this population. In some regions, overhunting poses a threat to long-term conservation. Threats are closely interrelated and act cumulatively to impact this population. Population increases do not appear likely in one-third of subpopulations where disturbances exceed a threshold of viability. A >30% decline in population is projected in the near term.

Status History: The Boreal population was designated Threatened in May 2000. This newly-defined population is comprised of a portion of the de-activated "Western population" and all of the de-activated "Labrador-Ungava population". Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2002 and November 2014.

Find out more about this species on the Species at Risk Act Public Registry

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