The Yukon government has imposed an emergency hunting ban on caribou near the Dempster Highway.

The Porcupine Caribou herd that normally travels through the area, has moved off and animals from two smaller herds have moved in.

Environment Department spokesperson, Nancy Campbell, says normal hunting pressure is not a problem for the Porcupine herd as it numbers in the hundreds of thousands of animals.

But the ban was imposed to protect the smaller herds now in the area, she says.

"People who normally go up the highway expecting to hunt Porcupine caribou, this year they won't find any Porcupine caribou," she said. "The caribou they will see actually belong to the  Hart and Forty Mile herds and we don't want them hunting them because the Forty Mile herd is in recovery and the Hart River herd is pretty small."

The ban is effective immediately and will last until next summer. But Campbell says the ban could be lifted if the smaller herds move on and the Porcupine herd returns.