ABSTRACT. We studied a case of failure in applying traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in comanagement as the basis for formalhunting regulations. We based the study on the Porcupine Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) Herd “let the leaders pass” policy, establishedfor the Dempster Highway of the Western Canadian Arctic, and identified conditions creating barriers in the successful application ofTEK through comanagement. Stated as propositions, identified barriers include: (1) the context-specific nature of TEK limits itsapplication in resource management regulations; (2) changes in traditional authority systems, hunting technology, and the socialorganization of harvesting caribou affect the effectiveness of TEK approaches in a contemporary social setting; (3) indigenous effortstoward self-government and political autonomy limit regional comanagement consensus in a heterogeneous cultural landscape; (4) themismatch of agency enforcement of hunting regulations and TEK-based education is problematic. We analyzed the case through fourhistorical phases of caribou management, complementing the study with a literature review of TEK and wildlife comanagement toexplain why TEK integration of caribou leaders in regulatory resource management fell short of success. Identifying and understandingthe social dynamics related to these barriers make apparent solutions for transforming the comanagement process.