COSEWIC Assessment - Barren-ground caribou (Dolphin and Union population)

Common name
Barren-ground caribou (Dolphin and Union population)
Scientific name
Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus
Status
Special Concern
Reason for designation
This population of caribou is endemic to Canada. Once thought to be extinct, numbers have recovered to perhaps a quarter of the population historic size. They have not been censused since 1997 and are subject to a high rate of harvest, whose sustainability is questioned by some. They migrate between the mainland and Victoria Island and climate warming or increased shipping may make the ice crossing more dangerous. The population, however, increased substantially over the last three generations and was estimated at about 28,000 in 1997.
Occurrence
Northwest Territories, Nunavut
Status history
The original designation considered a single unit that included Peary caribou, Rangifer tarandus pearyi, and what is now known as the Dolphin and Union population of the barren-ground caribou, Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus. It was assigned a status of Threatened in April 1979. Split to allow designation of three separate populations in 1991: Banks Island (Endangered), High Arctic (Endangered) and Low Arctic (Threatened) populations. In May 2004 all three population designations were de-activated, and the Peary caribou, Rangifer tarandus pearyi, was assessed separately from the barren-ground caribou (Dolphin and Union population), Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus. The Dolphin and Union population is composed of a portion of the former "Low Arctic population", and it was designated Special Concern in May 2004. Last assessment based on an update status report.