Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The United States Congress passed a budget resolution on October 26 that means the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is a step closer to being opened to oil and gas drilling. The Refuge is on the Alaska coastal plain.

Existing agreements between Indigenous Peoples, the Government of Yukon and the Government of Canada protect nearly 8,000 square miles of the Porcupine caribou herd’s range along the Alaskan border.

The Porcupine caribou herd is estimated to be 197,000. It is one of the largest populations of barren ground caribou in North America. Opening the ANWR to commercial development could be severely destructive to the herd.

Government's direction

Our goal is to urge the US Government to protect this sensitive habitat and the Porcupine caribou herd.

"The Government of Yukon stands in solidarity with the Gwich’in Peoples, advocating for the protection of the Porcupine caribou herd’s sacred and sensitive calving grounds on the Alaskan coastal plain. We are committed to this cause and encourage Yukoners to add their voices to this important effort." –Yukon Premier Sandy Silver

Working with the Vuntut Gwitchin

We will continue to work together with the Vuntut Gwitchin to advocate for the protection of the Porcupine caribou herd and their calving grounds. The Gwichi’in Peoples have long sought the protection of the herd and their calving grounds, which are widely acknowledged from both scientific and Traditional Knowledge perspectives, to be the most sensitive habitat for migratory barren-ground caribou herds.

Watch a video from the Minister of Environment and member of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Pauline Frost.

Our actions

  • November 6, 2017: Government of Yukon officials traveled to Washington to advocate for the protection of the Porcupine caribou herd.
  • November 3, 2017: Government of Yukon, Vuntut Gwitchin Government and Gwich’in Tribal Council urge protection of Porcupine caribou herd
  • November 1, 2017: The Yukon Premier sent a letter to US Senator for Alaska Lisa Murkowski and US Senator for Washington Maria Cantwell. View the Premier's letter.