More Than One Way to Count Caribou in Canada: Showcasing the NBCKC’s Boreal Caribou Monitoring Methods Toolkit (NACW 2023 Presentation)

Melanie Mullin
Resource Date:

This presentation was prepared for the 2023 North American Caribou Workshop and is uploaded here to the CCLM so that conference attendees and non-attendees can review the presentation at their leisure.

Abstract: Accurate population data is paramount for those deciding how best to conserve and protect caribou. Although the development of a national standard for collecting caribou population data would theoretically allow for the broadest application, the variability of caribou habitat across Canada makes such standardization untenable. Different regional circumstances and management questions call for different monitoring methods. Therefore, those developing monitoring programs need to consider the suite of methods available, determine which will work best for their objectives, and follow best practices when applying the chosen method(s).  The Monitoring Working Group (MWG), part of the National Boreal Caribou Knowledge Consortium, is a forum for sharing and generating new knowledge regarding boreal caribou monitoring across Canada. Over the last four years, this collaborative network of representatives from federal, territorial, and provincial governments, Indigenous organizations and communities, industry, environmental non-government organizations, and academia has worked together to share perspectives on best practices inclusive of western and Indigenous ways of knowing, to explore the diversity of monitoring priorities and constraints across the boreal range; evaluate the variability in methods used to monitor boreal caribou across Canada, and recommend best practices for applying the various boreal caribou monitoring techniques. Further, the MWG created a comprehensive, innovative, and publicly accessible Boreal Caribou Monitoring Toolkit, that is home to a suite of resources. The toolkit includes (1) a report documenting expert and knowledge holder perspectives on monitoring, (2) detailed guidance reports and factsheets for 9 commonly-used monitoring methods, (3) tables comparing various aspects of caribou monitoring programs, (4) an interactive decision tree to help planners discuss which method is most appropriate for them, and (5) a bilingual glossary of terms. The presentation will explain how this novel and inclusive toolkit was created, and demonstrate how NACW participants can access, benefit from, and contribute to its continued development.