PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
All the world’s caribou and reindeer belong to a single species, Rangifer tarandus, and are found in arctic and subarctic regions as well as in northern forests. Caribou that occur in the western mountainous region of Canada are largely brown in colour with a white mane. Mature females and males usually weigh 110-150 kg and 160-210 kg, respectively. Both males and females grow antlers, although some females may lack these. A distinctive characteristic is large, rounded hooves that reduce sinking in snow and wetlands and act as shovels when digging for food under snow.
Western mountain caribou have played an important role for Aboriginal peoples as well as for early fur traders and settlers. A majority of the current range is in Canada in the Northern Mountain, Central Mountain and Southern Mountain populations. Northern and Central Mountain Caribou both inhabit shallow snow areas in winter where they forage primarily for terrestrial lichens, but differ in their genetic makeup and evolutionary origin. Southern Mountain Caribou are distinct from other mountain caribou in that they have adapted to living in a deep snow environment where they forage primarily for arboreal lichens in winter.
This population is endemic to Canada and occurs in 10 extant subpopulations in east-central British Columbia and west-central Alberta in and around the Rocky Mountains. The current estimate for the population is 469 mature individuals and it has declined by at least 64% over the past 3 generations. One subpopulation in central British Columbia was confirmed extirpated in 2014, and an additional one in Banff in 2010. All extant subpopulations are estimated to contain fewer than 250 mature individuals, with 4 of these having fewer than 50. Two recognized subpopulations in 2002 have since split due to lack of dispersal within former ranges. All subpopulations have experienced declines of about 60% since the last assessment in 2002, and declines continue for all but one subpopulation, which has an unknown trend. Surveys have shown consistently high adult mortality and low calf recruitment, accelerating decline rates. Threats are continuing and escalating.
Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to "assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species".
COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2013 to September, 2014) from November 24 to November 29, 2013 and from April 27 to May 2, 2014. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species.
The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following:
Special Concern: 20
Data Deficient: 0
Not at Risk: 1
Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 25 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.
The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 521 wildlife species at risk.
Please submit your comments byApril 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultationsand byOctober 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please see:Species at Risk Public Registry website