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Standing up for America's last remaining caribou

Jan 31, 2013
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Conservation Northwest joined forces with other groups this week to launch a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agency’s decision to cut more than 90 percent of protected critical habitat in Idaho and Washington for the critically endangered mountain caribou.

Standing up for America's last remaining caribou

Today, Conservation Northwest joined forces with several other groups to launch a lawsuit against a federal decision to essentially abandon mountain caribou in the United States.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service short-changed one of America's most endangered mammals when late last year they slashed critical habitat protections for mountain caribou in Washington and Idaho by 90%. 

Today, Conservation Northwest joined forces with several other groups to launch a lawsuit against the agency’s decision to essentially abandon mountain caribou in the United States.

The trans-boundary South Selkirks herd which is the southernmost occurrence of caribou on earth has fewer than 50 animals that wander freely across the Canada/US border. But that herd is mostly isolated from other herds and the majority of mountain caribou in British Columbia.

“Instead of stepping up to do its part to recover mountain caribou by protecting adequate caribou habitat, the USFWS decided to put out the “Not Welcome” mat on the Canadian border. It’s unacceptable,” said Joe Scott, international conservation director of Conservation Northwest.

In a recent blog on this decision and a concurrent attempt by the snowmobile industry to have mountain caribou delisted, Scott pointed out that US habitat still has the potential to contribute to caribou recovery in both countries - particularly with large fires posing an increasing threat in the interior West.

It’s true that the majority of mountain caribou habitat is found in Canada, but that doesn’t mean that we in the US can give up and wash our hands of the animals.

By that measure any jurisdiction that lies within the edge of the range of any species, whether caribou, salmon, grizzly bears, orcas, or whatever can simply write them off, especially if they’re presence is inconvenient for any special interest.


Groups on the lawsuit include Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Selkirk Conservation Alliance, The Lands Council, Idaho Conservation League and Defenders of Wildlife, and are represented by Laurie Rule of Advocates for the West.
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