Satellite Collars

The map below is made available to the public as an educational tool and to assist community members to generally identify if Porcupine caribou are in their area. A 15-km buffer has been added to caribou locations in an attempt to strike a balance between the community requests for location information and conservation concerns related to potential increased harvesting pressure.

These maps will be delayed or discontinued if their release results in a conservation concern for the Porcupine Caribou herd.

Updated maps will be created and posted occasionally, as the work schedule of the biologists who work with the satellite collar data allows.

Why do we use satellite GPS collars?

Biologists use satellite GPS collars so they can see where animals go during different times of the year and to better understand the use of the animal’s habitats. This helps them understand seasonal range distribution, changes in rut and calving locations and determine spring and fall migration routes. The collars also help biologists locate animals in order to estimate population size, reproduction and survival rates.

How do we get the collars on?

Biologists use a helicopter to locate caribou. Once they find a group, one of the biologists shoots a special gun loaded with a net to capture one of the animals in the group. As soon as a caribou is captured in the net, the helicopter lands and the biologists rush to get the collar on the animal. The entire procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes, requires no drugs and places the animal in very little danger.

How do satellite GPS collars work?

Although several models of satellite GPS collars are used to monitor the herd, most are similar. Each is programmed before it is placed on a caribou to gather GPS locations on a set schedule. At a designated time the collar turns on and gathers information from satellites to determine where the collar is located. It then saves this information. The collar also has components that act like a satellite telephone. On another set schedule, the collar dials a secure website and the communication is linked through satellites. Once connected the collar transmits its data to a secure webserver where biologists can login and download or view the data. The biologist can then create maps using the location data sent from the collars.

How long do collars last?

The batteries in most collars last about four years.

Collared caribou and hunting

If you see a collared caribou, please do not shoot it. The information it provides is important and re-collaring animals is expensive. If you accidentally shoot a collared animal, please return the collar to your local biologist.