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Caribou and You

By protecting caribou, you are protecting your future. Caribou need the intact ecosystems that provide the fresh air and clean water we need to survive. By saving caribou's remaining habitat in Canada’s Boreal forests and Northern tundra, we are protecting our health and a way of life for Indigenous peoples, and slowing the effects of climate change.

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Help us protect caribou and their boreal home
Help us protect caribou and their boreal home
Help us demonstrate that Canadians care about our caribou and want them and their boreal home protected.
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Click to learn more about caribou

Caribou have been a fundamental part of our northern ecosystems for more than 2 million years. They have shaped and been shaped by the harsh climates and landscapes, and are built for survival where few others can live. Predators like wolves, bears, wolverines, and even humans have relied on the regular appearance of caribou as a source of food for thousands of years, many adapting their hunting patterns to follow caribou migrations.

The threat

Canada’s caribou have survived multiple ice ages, natural events like forest fires and insects that have disseminated their food sources, and, in recent past, rebounded from overhunting once the pressure was removed. In a way, they are a resilient species, adapting over time to survive in different landscapes.

However, even a resilient species cannot adapt overnight to significant changes in their landscape that directly undermine their survival strategies. Caribou are vulnerable to extensive fragmentation of their landscape, which for various reasons exposes them to more predators and decreases their access to food sources.

As the climate changes, natural pressures like fires and pests may also result in increased amount of young forests occurring in the landscape, further amplifying the direct human impacts on the landscape.

What CPAWS is doing

Across Canada, CPAWS national and regional conservation staff and volunteers are working with provinces, territories and the federal government, progressive companies, local communities and First Nations to develop conservation measures for boreal woodland caribou on public lands, including those leased to resource companies.


  • Strong provincial and territorial recovery strategies and other legal tools that need to be implemented for at-risk caribou herds across Canada, focused on woodland caribou (in progress)
  • Design and implementation of robust range plans for each boreal woodland caribou herd under the Federal Species-at-Risk Act with significant and effective protection for core caribou habitat (in progress)
  • Caribou habitat conservation proposals on lands leased to forest companies, developed with partners in the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement and/or the Forest Stewardship Council and with provincial and First Nation governments (in progress)
  • Integration of robust caribou conservation considerations in land use management tools and other tools that could reduce or halt the threats to critical habitat, such as forest management laws, permitting regulations, and environmental impact assessments practices (in progress)


  • Improved information and maps about Boreal Woodland caribou in Canada
  • Strong requirements to recover caribou under the Federal Species-at-Risk Act for Boreal Woodland caribou (accomplished 2012)
  • Multiple outcomes at the provincial and territorial level, such as strong recovery strategies in several provinces. See below for more information.

Learn more about what our chapters are doing to protect caribou in their regions:

British Columbia





Newfoundland and Labrador


2016 UPDATE: Boreal Woodland Caribou Conservation in Canada (December 2016)

Before October 2017, the federal government will need to report on the progress that has been made by all governments in implementing, and meeting the objectives of, the national boreal woodland caribou recovery strategy released in 2012 under the Species-at-risk Act (SARA). Earlier this year, CPAWS started a one-year clock, hoping to inspire governments to act before this first report. Looking across Canada today, it will be difficult to demonstrate that sufficient action has been taken to protect caribou.

Looking for Action: Caribou losing ground (December 2014)

This report is our second annual review of Canada’s progress in conserving boreal woodland caribou habitat since the 2012 release of the federal recovery strategy for boreal caribou under the Species-at-Risk Act (SARA).

2015 UPDATE: Boreal Woodland Caribou Conservation in Canada (2015)

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) has been conducting annual reviews of progress by federal, provincial and territorial governments to protect and recover Canada’s remaining boreal woodland caribou1 populations since 2013, the year after the Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), Boreal population, in Canada2 was issued by the federal government under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Population Critical: How are Canada’s Boreal Woodland Caribou Faring? (2013)

In our first annual assessment of how well provinces and territories are doing in meeting their obligations to protect boreal caribou since the federal recovery strategy for the species was released in 2012, the majority get bottom marks for lagging so far behind in protecting one of Canada’s most iconic species at risk.

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