A national committee of wildlife scientists now considers Nunavut’s Dolphin and Union caribou herd to be an endangered species. These stocky, large-hoofed animals spend their summers on Victoria Island and overwinter on the North American mainland. Their twice-a-year migrations across the sea ice of the Coronation Gulf have become increasingly perilous in recent years, as climate change causes the ice to freeze up later in the fall and to thaw earlier in the spring.
The growing use of icebreaking in the area is also being flagged as a major concern by scientists. The herd migrates across one of the routes of the Northwest Passage, which is seeing a growing number of transits.
And the herd roams not far from the proposed Grays Bay port and road that’s being aggressively pushed by the Government of Nunavut as a means of jump-starting mining projects in the region.