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Canis Lupus - "Amaruq"

Population Status


Wolves are found across the Yukon North Slope. A Government of Yukon study conducted in the mid-1990s found wolves occurring in two distinct ecotypes separated by treeline. Above the treeline in the mountains and the coastal plain is a transitory population of wolves that moves annually with the caribou migration. Below treeline, wolves are territorial and seasonally use the Porcupine caribou herd, but rely year-round on moose and sheep.

Population size:

A Government of Yukon study in the mid-1990’s estimated a population of about 575 wolves in the northern Yukon. Density is at a low level, which is considered to be normal for wolf populations in the Arctic.

Population trend:

Numbers fluctuate naturally in response to the availability of prey.

Unique or special characteristics:

  • The Yukon North Slope supports a migratory wolf population.
  • The harvest of wolves on the North Slope can be high in localized areas. This may reflect the ease of access, the relatively high levels of human activity on the land in winter, and the conspicuousness of wolves and their tracks on the barrens. This situation is unique to the Yukon where typically harvest rates are low.

Habitat Features

Wolf habitat is always linked to the distribution and abundance of large ungulates. However, high densities of caribou are not indicative of high densities of wolves. Wolf denning success above tree line is dependant on fall migrations of caribou moving near or through the area where wolves are rearing pups. The food requirements of pups increases dramatically as summer ends and they cannot be maintained on small game. They are also not large enough to travel long distances to find caribou. Denning habitat is or may be a significant limiting factor for pup production, as good sites are few and far between, and if not located near the path of southward travelling caribou the ability to feed pups is greatly restricted.



Under the IFA, the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee has the authority to develop bylaws that apply to the Inuvialuit harvest of specific species, should such bylaws be needed. NWT regulations must then reflect these bylaws. Bylaws may also be reflected in Ivvavik National Park regulations and Yukon wildlife regulations. There are currently no Aklavik HTC bylaws in place for wolves.

From 1988 to 1999 Inuvialuit harvest data was collected through the Inuvialuit Harvest Study. In the period from 1988 to 1997, the average annual harvest reported by Aklavik residents was 15. The harvest ranged from a low of two in 1989 to a high of 54 in 1992. The wolf harvest is believed to be closely associated with the distribution of caribou; wolves are typically shot incidentally while hunters are pursuing caribou. The Government of Yukon, in partnership with the Aklavik HTC, has been collecting wolf harvest data from Inuvialuit residents of Aklavik since 2001. Harvest information recorded includes species, date, location, sex and maturity of the animal. Funding and support for the collection of harvest data is supplied through the IFA and other agencies.


Regulations under Yukon Wildlife Act, NWT Wildlife Act and National Parks Act apply in their respective jurisdictions. Yukon residents may take three wolves per year on a big game licence in select sub-zones in the northern Yukon. Many sub-zones are closed to resident hunters. Beneficiaries of adjacent claim settlements may harvest with Inuvialuit consent, on the same basis as the Inuvialuit.

Harvesting Rights
Ivvavik National Park Exclusive None Permitted
Herschel Island Territorial Park Exclusive None Permitted
East of the Babbage River Preferential With license>/td> Adjoining NWT Preferential Permitted with tag


Wolves hold tremendous appeal for visitors to the region.


The greatest threat to wolves is low food supply during the denning period. Their migratory nature also makes them vulnerable to local overharvest in some communities. However, the movement of wolves related to caribou migration patterns makes their presence in a given area unpredictable from year to year, limiting the impact of unsustainably high harvest levels in any given year.

Species at Risk Status

Appendix II

Research and Monitoring

Population monitoring:

There is an ongoing program to record species observed on Herschel Island. No other program is in place on the Yukon North Slope.


An inventory of wolves was conducted in 1987, 1989 and again in 1993. In 1989 data was collected to compare the characteristics of wolf dens on the north and south slopes of the mountains of the northern Yukon. The 1993 study compared the population size to the 1987 and 1989 results, and looked at wolf movements with the aid of satellite collars.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) conducted studies to describe the activities of predators, including wolves, on calving caribou


The natural dynamics between wolves and caribou, and wolf harvest patterns, are poorly understood throughout the range of the Porcupine caribou herd. It is important that harvest be well documented and regulated appropriately. Note that the wolverine harvest may be closely linked to the distribution and abundance of wolves.


Management Jurisdictions
Ivvavik National Park IFA Parks Canada None Core calving area, summering
Hershel Island Territorial Park Yukon Wildlife Act YTG Summering
East of the Babbage River National Parks Act YTG Summering
Adjoining NWT NWT Wildlife Act GNWT Summering, spring and fall migration

To meet conservation goals of the IFA, the co-management bodies are mandated to determine and recommend (to Yukon Government, GNWT and Parks Canada) a total allowable harvest and/ or promote research, if and when required.

The North Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Plan includes a chapter on the management of wolves in the Vuntut Gwitchin Traditional Territory which lies to the south of the Inuvialuit Settlement region in the Yukon.

Community-based Information

In 2003, the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee undertook a project to record traditional knowledge of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope. The observations, comments and concerns expressed by Aklavik residents as part of this study were as follows:

  • Most people felt wolves would be found on the North Slope if caribou were around.
  • With the absence of caribou in the Richardson Mountains in recent years and more moose in the delta, some but not all hunters felt that more of the wolves were in the delta hunting moose. However, wolves, their kills or sign of moose running were rarely seen in the delta because the bush is so thick.
  • Pack sizes may be larger in Ivvavik National Park, reflecting less hunting.
  • There are fewer wolves and smaller packs since people started to use skidoos to hunt them in the 1970s.
  • Overall, wolves are present but they are not too numerous.
  • One family lost a dog to wolves last fall. They are concerned that wolves

have been getting more aggressive in the fall in recent years.

Community-based information on this species may also be found in the reports of the annual community-based monitoring program conducted in Aklavik and neighbouring communities by the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. following comments are taken from the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op Community Reports for Aklavik - Inuvialuit for the years indicated: .

2005 - 2006

Some say there aren’t many wolves around. This fall there was a pack of wolves traveling around chasing moose. As we have more moose in the delta, we may see more wolves. But nobody really sees them, only the tracks in some places.

2003 -2004

Wolves are only in the hills and only if there is caribou or moose.

2004 - 2005

People don’t often see wolves, but see their tracks and sometimes hear them.

2002 - 2003

Lately some people were saying that at night time they see larger looking dogs wandering around the community so they’re concerned that the wolves are coming and they had a concern about the kids who played freely. That came up a few times.

Wolves are more aggressive. They chewed up one of my dogs this fall. They usually don’t come that close to my camp. We had to keep a close eye on the kids.

Related Literature and Information Sources

Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. 2007 Community Monitoring Report 2005 -2006.

Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. 2006 Community Monitoring Report 2004 - 2005.

Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. 2005 Community Monitoring Report 2003 - 2004.

Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. 2004 Community Monitoring Report 2003 - 2004.

Bear, A. 2007. Personal Communication, Government of Yukon, Department of Environment.

Cooley, D. 2003. Personal Communication, Government of Yukon, Department of Environment.

Hayes, R., and P. Clarkson. 1997. Ecology and management of wolves on the Porcupine caribou range. Yukon Department of Environment, Whitehorse.

Hayes, R. and N. Barichello. 1986. Wolf, moose, muskoxen and grizzly bear observations on the Yukon North Slope, June 1986. Progress Report. Yukon Department of Environment, Whitehorse.

Joint Secretariat, 2003. Inuvialuit Harvest Study, Data and Methods Report 1988 - 1997. Inuvik, NT.

Maraj, R. 2007. Personal Communication, Government of Yukon, Department of Environment.

U.S. Geological Survey, 2002. Arctic Refuge coastal plain terrestrial wildlife research summaries. U.S. Geological Survey Biological Science Report: USGS/BRD/BSR-2002-0001

Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee. 2003. Aklavik Inuvialuit describe the status of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope, March, 2003. Final Report. Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope), Whitehorse, Yukon.

Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) 1999. Yukon North Slope research review tables.

Young Donald D., Thomas R. McCabe, Robert Ambrose, Gerald W. Garner, Greg J. Weiler, Harry V. Reynolds, Mark S. Udevitz, Dan J. Reed, and Brad Griffith. D. C. Douglas, P. E. Reynolds, and E. B. Rhode, editors. Arctic Refuge coastal plain terrestrial wildlife research summaries. U. S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Biological Science Report USGS/BRD/BSR-2002-0001.

Young, D., G. Garner, R. Ambrose, H. Reynolds, and T. McCabe. 1992. Differential impacts of predators (brown bears, wolves, golden eagles) on caribou calving in the 1002 Area and potential displacement areas: an assessment of predation risks. Pages 37-66 in T. R. McCabe, B. Griffith, N. E. Walsh, and D. D. Young, editors. Terrestrial Research: 1002 Area - Arctic NWR Interim Report 1988 - 1990. U.S. Fish Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska. 432 pp.