Caribou are now abundant on Southampton Island. However, it was not always the case. During the 1950’s, caribou were hunted to extinction on the Island. In 1967, about 50 caribou were transferred from nearby Coats Island. The population increased dramatically, which caused concerns because of the lack of lichen to maintain and feed the herd.
A commercial caribou harvest was started in 1994 to control and sustain the population. The Southampton Island Meat Company sold most of the meat to the plant in Rankin Inlet. According to the last survey in 2009, the caribou population on the island is estimated at 15,000. Therefore, the commercial harvest was suspended after the 2009 harvest.Caribou is also a popular game for Sport hunters because of its large antlers, great meat and warm fur.