Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The United States Congress passed a budget resolution in October 2017 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. Portions of ANWR are particularly important for the caribou as it is where they give birth each year, known as their calving grounds. 

Existing agreements between Indigenous Peoples, the Government of Yukon and the Government of Canada protect nearly 13,000 square kilometres of the Porcupine caribou herd’s range along the Alaskan border.

The Porcupine caribou herd is estimated to be at 218,000 animals. 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 partners for the Porcupine caribou

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. Other Canadian partners include the Government of Canada, the Gwitchin Tribal Council, the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Vuntut Gwitchin, the Government of Northwest Territories, the Inuvialuit Game Council, and the Porcupine Caribou Management Board.

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

Our actions

  • September 27, 2018: International Porcupine Caribou Board (IPCB) meets in Kaktovik, Alaska to discuss herd’s conservation. Government of Yukon is an official member of the IPCB.
  • June 18, 2018: Government of Yukon submits input into the Bureau of Land Management Alaska State Office “scoping” phase of the Environmental Impact Assessment process. You can read the Government of Yukon's submission. The Environmental Impact Assessment process will consider the potential impacts of leasing ANWR lands for petroleum exploration. You can find out more information about the American project and process.
  • May 2018:  Government of Yukon tenders additional research work to help understand the impacts development in the calving grounds may have on the herd. 
  • January 2018: Government of Yukon convenes summit of the Parties to the Canadian Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement. Second summit follows in May 2018 in Inuvik. 
  • November 6, 2017: Government of Yukon officials travel 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 sends letter to US Senator for Alaska Lisa Murkowski and US Senator for Washington Maria Cantwell. View the Premier's letter.