Camping & RVs
Protected Area Planning
Territorial Parks & Protected Areas
- Agay Mene (Park in progress)
- Asi Keyi (Park in progress)
- Big Island
- Coal River Springs
- Devil's Elbow
- Herschel Island - Qikiqtaruk
- Horseshoe Slough
- Kusawa (Park in progress)
- Lhutsaw Wetlands
- Ni'iinlii Njik (Fishing Branch)
- Old Crow Flats (Van Tat K'atr'anahtii)
- Ta'Tla Mun
- Ts'alwnjik Chu (Nordenskiold) Wetland
Hunting in Yukon
Fishing in Yukon
Trapping in Yukon
- Trapping Regulation Highlights
- Humane Trapping Standards
- Trapper Education
- Development Concession - CAPS
- Yukon Trapper Profiles
Hunter & Trapper Education & Resources
- Wildlife Viewing Program
- Wildlife Viewing Events
- Viewing Tips & Etiquette
- Best Viewing Sites
- Through the Seasons
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- Swan Haven
- Celebration of Swans
- Southern Lakes Bear Study
- Winter Ticks
- Wildlife Diseases & Contaminants
- Wildlife Management Modelling
- Climate Change
- Climate Change Action Plan
- Impacts of Climate Change
- Climate Change Adaptation
- Water & Climate Change
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Air & Water
Waste & Chemicals
Clean Northern Living
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- Help Stop Invasive Species
- Turn in Poachers & Polluters
- Warming Up Your Vehicle
- Wood Burning Tips
- Environment Fair 2013
- Draft Yukon Water Strategy
- Animal Health Act Review
- Volunteer Opportunities in Yukon Parks
- How You Can Help Wildlife Studies
- Environmental Awareness Fund
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- BIGFOOT/littlefoot Game
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- Resource Staff at Environment Yukon
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About the Department
Maps & GIS Data
- Wood Bison
- Grizzly Bears
- Black Bears
- Polar Bears
- Wolves, Coyotes, Wolverines
There are about 70,000 to 75,000 moose in the Yukon. Overall numbers are thought to be stable or slowly increasing – a positive outlook.
While the Yukon-wide harvest is believed to be within the estimated sustainable limit of 2100 to 3000 moose per year, the harvest in a few areas is near, or may exceed, what is sustainable. These are usually areas with relatively easy access and high hunting pressure.
Hunters are encouraged to avoid hunting near communities and to try to get into the more remote backcountry. This will generally increase their chances of success, the quality of their hunt, and reduce hunting pressures elsewhere.
The public’s assistance with ground based monitoring and provision of local and traditional knowledge is greatly appreciated.
You can obtain the results of past surveys and other moose studies by contacting the Moose Management Biologist at (867) 667-5787.
Woodland caribou are scattered across the Yukon in 23 separate herds.
The total Yukon population is estimated at roughly 30,000 animals. The size of each herd rises and falls in response to ecological and human-caused factors which are not fully understood.
From May to October, woodland caribou inhabit alpine areas where they calve and rut. They move to forested valleys from November to April. It is during these winter months that their ranges distinguish the herds. Four woodland caribou herds are presently not open to licensed hunting due to declining populations.
There are three barrenground caribou herds in the Yukon: the Porcupine, Fortymile and Nelchina herds. Long migration routes between summer and winter ranges and core calving areas distinguish a barrenground herd from a woodland herd.
The Porcupine Caribou Herd is shared between the Yukon, Alaska and the Northwest Territories. This herd of barrenground caribou makes extensive migrations between its calving grounds on the Yukon and Alaska north slope and its wintering areas in the Richardson and Ogilvie Mountains in the Yukon and the Brooks Range in Alaska.
In the fall, Porcupine caribou can usually be found along the Dempster Highway from the Blackstone River valley north to the NWT border. The Porcupine Caribou Management Board, with representatives from Alaska, NWT and Yukon, is working on a management plan that will support the well-being of the herd and the humans who depend on it.
In October 2002, some 30,000 caribou from the Fortymile Herd migrated into the Yukon — for the first time in about 50 years! A century before, the herd had numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Overharvesting that began during the Klondike Gold Rush, and later, severe weather and predation resulted in the herd’s reduction to roughly 5,000 animals in 1975.
By the early 1990’s, the herd had rebounded to over 20,000 animals, but high calf mortality due to wolf predation continued to limit growth. In 1997, a wolf fertility-control program was implemented and continued for five years. Other ecological conditions such as herd nutritional condition and weather were favourable and the herd increased to about 50,000 caribou. Biologists believe that this number may allow the herd to escape the limiting force of predation and continue to grow to historic levels.
Bison were reintroduced to the Yukon in the late 1980s as part of a national recovery program. The species was common throughout the Yukon 2,000 to 3,000 years ago and was present in local areas as recently as 400 to 500 years ago. A range reconnaissance study carried out in the early 1980s identified the Nisling River watershed as the best bison range in the southern Yukon, with a carrying capacity of at least 400 animals.
Between 1988 and 1992, 170 bison were released in the Nisling River valley. Since then the herd has grown to about 1,100 animals and expanded its range into the Aishihik, Sekulmun and Hutshi Lakes watersheds and beyond. The bison management plan calls for a herd size of about 500 animals.
Since wolves have only recently begun preying on bison, hunting is the primary means of limiting the herd size. Without hunting, the herd would grow at a rate of 15-20 per cent per year.
A bison permit hunt began in 1998. About 700 animals have been harvested since then, with about two-thirds of these being bulls. In the 2007-08 season 99 animals were harvested. Even with hunting, the herd continues to grow. Environment Yukon encourages hunters to harvest female animals to regulate herd growth and balance the sex-ratio of the herd.
The Aishihik Wood Bison Herd is now providing meat hunters with an alternative to moose in southern Yukon. A large bull can weigh 1,000 kg (2,200 lb.) on the hoof but much of this weight is made up of viscera and head. An average adult cow weighs about 450 to 630 kg (1000 to 1400 lb.).
Bison were easy to approach when hunting first began. After 10 years of hunting, they are now wary of people. Environment Yukon requires each hunter to take a workshop on techniques for hunting bison before issuing a permit. A successful hunt requires considerable time and effort.
In the Yukon, only full-curl rams may be taken on a Big Game Hunting Licence. If you are not absolutely sure it’s a full-curl ram, don’t shoot.
When viewed from the side, with horn bases aligned, a full curl male has at least one horn that extends beyond a line running from the centre of the nostril to the lowermost edge of the eye. Check the horns carefully. Sheep horns viewed from below can appear larger than they really are.
Mountain goats are relatively uncommon in the Yukon where they are at the northern limit of their range. An estimated 1,700 goats are found only in the lower third of the territory, mainly in isolated pockets in the southwest and in the Logan Mountains north of Watson Lake. More than half of the Yukon’s mountain goats live in Kluane National Park and the adjoining Kluane Wildlife Sanctuary.
Goat management decisions must be made with caution because of the nature of this species. When threatened, goats run to cliffs where they are out of reach of natural predators, but not hunters. Their range use is strongly traditional and predictable because of specialized habitat requirements. While these traits make things easy for goat hunters, they make goats vulnerable to over-harvest.
Since females are important for reproduction, you are encouraged to select male goats. Males tend to be solitary and are up to 30 per cent larger than females. They stretch forward to urinate, while females squat. The most effective way to identify a male is by stalking close enough to study the size and shape of the horns. Female goats with young are protected from hunting.
Public sighting records indicate both mule and white-tailed deer occur naturally in Yukon. Sightings of deer date back to the early 1920s, with mule deer reported much more frequently than white-tailed deer. Sightings and road kills indicate a steady increase in deer numbers and distribution since records have been kept. Deer are now seen regularly as far north as Dawson.
Deer are known to be sensitive to severe winter conditions, which may result in large swings in the number of animals noted from year to year. At the northern distribution of their range in Yukon, deer are more likely to be vulnerable to severe winters.
The public is asked to report all deer sightings. This information helps Environment Yukon track the health and distribution of deer populations throughout Yukon.
White-tailed deer especially rare
Although the current regulation allows for harvesting of either species of deer found in Yukon, hunters are asked to voluntarily refrain from killing white-tailed deer. These animals are far less common than mule deer in Yukon and even a small harvest could be harmful to their population.
Grizzly bears inhabit the entire Yukon from the B.C. border to Herschel Island off the Arctic coast. Since the Yukon’s northern interior environment is less productive than southern or coastal environments, our bears are spread fairly thin over the landscape. The territorial population is estimated at 6,000 to 7,000 animals.
Wildlife managers are working to reduce the harvest of female bears and the number of bears that are destroyed in human-wildlife conflicts each year. The reproductive rate of the species is so low that the loss of a few female bears can have a significant impact on a population.
One Grizzly Bear Every Three Years
The bag limit for grizzly bears in all open subzones is one bear every three licence years. This means if you shoot a grizzly bear in the 2008-09 season you cannot take another grizzly anywhere in the Yukon until the 2011-12 season.
Defending Life or Property
If you are forced to kill a bear in defence of life or property, you must report the kill to a Conservation Officer as soon as possible. You will be required to submit the head and the pelt with claws attached.
Black bears are distributed from the B.C.-Yukon border to the northern tree line near Old Crow. They are most numerous in the southern and central parts of the territory. A rough estimate puts the Yukon black bear population at about 10,000 animals.
The Yukon’s mountainous terrain tends to concentrate the range of the black bear. Unlike the grizzly, this is a forest bear and its range in the Yukon is confined to the river valleys and their finger-like strips of forested habitat.
Female black bears with cubs, and all cubs, are protected from hunting. A black bear cub includes any black bear that is less than two years old.
Note: Any black bears found together in autumn are a female and cub family group. They are protected. A female black bear may hide her cubs in a tree for up to five hours while she feeds. So please take the time to make sure that the bear you are hunting is alone.
Throughout the winter, small numbers of polar bears hunt along a narrow strip of the Yukon’s Arctic coast, on Herschel Island, and on the offshore ice. In midsummer, these bears move northward with the retreating edge of the ice pack.
Through their land claim agreement, the Inuvialuit of the western Arctic have the exclusive right to harvest polar bears on the Yukon’s North Slope
Wolves, coyotes and wolverines may be taken on a big game licence. It is unlawful to waste the pelts of these animals.
Contact Environment Yukon
Government of Yukon
Box 2703 (V-3A)