ID: Lone caribou stands at mountain edge overlooking pink sunset sky. text: Conserving caribou habitat


An icon of BC’s wilderness, caribou have been resilient since the Ice Age, out-surviving mammoths and saber-toothed cats in the cold. In the winter, they continue to use their large hooves and acute sense of smell to find and dig up lichen—their unique food source. 

For many Indigenous peoples like the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations, caribou are foundational to their way of life—for generations, they’ve hunted caribou for food and as part of their culture.

Once, long ago, over 40,000 caribou roamed freely across the province. Now, less than 15,000 remain, fighting to survive on scattered lands full of predators, highways, and logging. For once thriving herds like the Klinse-Za, this number dwindles below 100. The clock is ticking fast for BC’s precious caribou, and we need to take action before it’s too late.


Across the province, there are a mere 55 caribou populations remaining today. BC’s most at-risk types of caribou—the boreal and southern mountain caribou—live in BC’s southeast and up north, near the Alberta and Yukon borders. Over 75% of these two caribou types are in decline or extirpated, never to come back. 

Across BC, logging including clear-cutting in old growth forests, dramatically alters caribou habitats. Moose have moved into caribou territory, bringing their mutual predator, wolves, with them. This—alongside competition against moose for food and shelter and clear-cutting in BC’s old growth—has shrunk and fragmented traditional caribou habitat, causing their rapid decline. 

Though the provincial government has created a draft plan for boreal caribou, it isn’t enough. The plan doesn’t protect all boreal caribou populations, and allows industries to continue some logging and oil extraction. Southern mountain caribou, on the other hand, have a recovery plan in place, but still, the animals are not recovering fast enough. We can and must do better.


Like grizzly bears, caribou are a keystone species in BC, which means their presence in a landscape shows us how healthy or harmed an ecosystem is. Many caribou depend on the health of BC’s inland temperate rainforest—one of only three in the entire world.

Caribou aren’t just a provincial matter, either. 2019 marked the end of caribou in the US, leading to the listing of BC caribou in the US Endangered Species Act in the hopes that BC will take action to protect the world’s only deep-snow caribou.

Protecting areas where they roam—like Dene Kʼéh Kusān—is a key way we can help these animals thrive. 

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