Wildlife and biodiversity

Wild spaces are Yukon’s true gold. Wildlife and biodiversity are able to thrive in the territory’s intact wilderness and CPAWS is working to ensure their habitat is protected.

The Yukon is a landscape of opportunity for nature conservation. In our territory we have some of the nation’s healthiest populations of moose, caribou, wolves, bears, lynx, wild sheep and other iconic wildlife, as well as many species of migratory birds and smaller creatures like marten and river otter that thrive in our rich ecosystems.  Because parts of the Yukon were not glaciated during the last ice age, there are also species of plants and fish not found anywhere else. Whereas globally we are losing wilderness at an unprecedented rate, the Yukon has vast tracts of unspoiled nature that provide wildlife the space they need to survive.

Many First Nations and non-First Nations people continue to live off the land, depending on the salmon that run through the rivers and the barren-ground caribou that travel great distances in their annual migration. But unchecked industrial development of the territory’s remaining wild places can fragment and wreck habitat, placing strain on the Yukon’s rich biodiversity and putting our wildlife at risk.

Industrial and human development has transformed much of southern Canada, leaving only islands of nature, but this does need to happen in the Yukon.


CPAWS Yukon wants to reduce the threats to all wildlife in the territory and ensure that critical habitat is protected for generations to come. We work with First Nations governments and other territorial partners to make the Yukon a model for how people and wildlife can co-exist. Through our Protect the Peel campaign we have mounted a landmark legal case alongside affected First Nations to keep the majority of this undisturbed wilderness off limits to industry.

We advocate for strong, science-based management of Yukon’s parks so that they continue to be sanctuaries for Yukon’s wildlife. We support responsible resource development so that where we do have an impact on nature, we are minimizing the damage.

We are also a partner in the Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative, a project focused on ecological connectivity across North America through a south-north wildlife corridor.


Irresponsible industrial development and road access are two of the main causes of habitat loss across Canada, including the Yukon. This can include mining, oil and gas development and other industrial activity, as well as unregulated off-road vehicle use. Without limits and safeguards on these activities, they can damage sensitive ecosystems and disturb the range of many species.

In the Yukon, there are some improvements needed to how we manage wildlife at the policy level. The Yukon lacks a territorial Species at Risk Act, potentially leaving some species without the protection they need. There are also knowledge gaps in our biodiversity monitoring, with an array small mammals, non-migratory birds, plants, insects and other non-harvested species currently not being assessed.

Wherever possible, CPAWS participates in consultations and reviews regarding wildlife management and resource development in order to advocate for habitat protection.

In this section

Yellowstone to Yukon
Yellowstone to Yukon
CPAWS Yukon was one of the founding members of this international initiative, which seeks to preserve and restore native plants, animals and wilderness throughout the 3,200-kilometre-long mountainous spine of the Rockies that links Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to the Yukon’s Peel Watershed.

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