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Harvest

The Porcupine Caribou herd provides a healthy, nutritious food source for people who live in the north, particularly the user communities in Alaska, Yukon and NWT. Ensuring the sustainable harvest of the Porcupine Caribou herd is an important aspect of the PCMB's mandate.

As per PCMB recommendations following the 2015 Annual Harvest Meeting, the herd is currently in the following zone:

Green Zone
  • Licensed hunters can take a maximum of two bull caribou.
  • Aboriginal harvesters can take as many caribou (cows or bulls) as they need.
All harvesters must report their harvest

Annual Harvest Meeting
Download the Green Zone poster

Harvest Management Plan

The Porcupine Caribou Management Board, along with the Parties responsible for the management of the herd, worked together to create the Harvest Management Plan for the Porcupine Caribou herd in Canada and its accompanying implementation strategy. The Plan coordinates management actions for the herd's conservation and lays out how the Parties will respond according to the status of the herd.

Herd Size Licensed Hunters Aboriginal Hunters
Green Zone
More than 115,000 animals
Up to two animals harvested
Mandatory bulls only
No harvest limit
Cows and bulls may be taken
Yellow Zone
80,000 to 115,000 animals
Only one animal harvest
Mandatory bulls only
No harvest limit
Voluntary bulls only
Orange Zone
45,000 to 80,000 animals
Harvest limit through permits Harvest limit through subsistence allocation
Red Zone
Less than 45,000 animals
No harvesting No harvest except for ceremonial purposes


Harvest Reporting

Under the Harvest Management Plan, all Parties have committed to accurately reporting harvest of Porcupine Caribou by their hunters each year. This information is critical to determining the management status of the herd each year. It will also be an important component for determining harvest allocation among user groups if the herd is ever in the Orange Zone.

Hunting Best Practices

Here are some of the easiest ways to show respect for the herd and help ensure it continues to grow:


Don't shoot cows

If a hunter chooses a bull instead of a cow each year for 10 years, there will be 23 more caribou in the herd. Imagine if 100 hunters did this. Or 1,000 hunters...

Download the Full of Bull poster

Look for young bulls

Selecting young bulls, or avoiding hunting from mid-October to mid-November will ensure you don't get "stinky meat" in the fall.

Respect your harvest

Take only what you need, and use all that you take.

Shoot to kill

Wounded caribou usually die in the bush hours or days after being shot.

Use all the parts

Hides, hoofs, heads and organs can all be used or eaten.

Can you tell
the difference?

> Learn more here (.pdf)

Caring For Meat

  1. Once an animal has been shot, the animal should be kept cool, clean and dry.
  2. Gut the animal promptly to avoid spoilage, especially if it was shot in the belly.
  3. Gut the animal carefully to avoid contamination by spilling contents of the bladder, stomach or bowels on meat.
  4. The skimmer or truck box should be clean of gas, oil, garbage or saw dust – use a tarp.
  5. Make sure you drag any gut piles away from roads or trails so that other people don’t accidentally run into any scavengers that might be attracted to them.
> Download a caribou meat chart (.jpg)

Sale, Trade and Barter Guidelines

The Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement (1985) states there will be no commercial harvest of Porcupine Caribou in Canada. However, the sale, barter or trade of caribou meat among First Nations and Inuvialuit is permitted subject to guidelines established by the PCMB. These guidelines outline those circumstances and situations when the sale of caribou meat is allowed.

The following is a summary of the key elements of the guidelines:

Definition of "barter" or "trade"

Under the guidelines, "barter" and "trade" mean the same thing: an exchange of a good or service for caribou meat. For example, harvesters could trade fish for caribou meat or caribou meat in exchange for fixing a skidoo.

Sale of Meat

"Sale" is defined as the exchange of money for caribou meat. Under the guidelines, the money received for Porcupine Caribou meat must not exceed reasonable expenses incurred. This means no one should profit from the sale of Porcupine Caribou. For greater certainty, expenses are not to be considered the value of the caribou. The guidelines stipulate:
  • Hunters who plan to sell caribou to other Native Users for reasonable expenses must be pre-authorized by the local First Nation government, RRC or HTC.
  • Hunters who are paid to hunt as individuals should be paid "reasonable expenses" for the trip and not according to the number of caribou taken. These reasonable expenses should include gas/oil, ammunition, and some costs for wear and tear on the vehicle/equipment with a limit of $200 or as determined by the local First Nation, RRC or HTC.
  • Other expenses that may be considered (if necessary) are basic food provisions and safety equipment.

Definition of "disadvantaged"

Under the guidelines, "disadvantaged" users are defined as those who are single parents, elders, widows, low-income families and those who are unable to go hunting due to disability or prolonged illness. Other circumstances may be considered on a case-by-case basis by the respective RRCs, HTCs or First Nations.

Definition of "emergency situation"

For the purpose of these guidelines, an “emergency situation” is where the caribou do not migrate near enough to a community to meet Native Users' needs in Canada. The User Communities will work together to meet needs of Native Users in accordance with these guidelines.

The PCMB acknowledges that aboriginal groups within the Canadian range of the herd have land claim agreements, which have implications for the implementation of the guidelines. Therefore, if any conflicts arise, the expeditious consideration of individual situations will be dealt with in a timely fashion by the appropriate claimant organization under their existing processes.