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Cross-border for caribou

Dec 01, 2011

The USFWS proposes critical habitat protections for endangered mountain caribou in the South Selkirks. That's helpful to caribou recovery, along with recreation closures for the northern and southern Selkirks herds.

Cross-border for caribou

Transboundary herd of mountain caribou are helped by a plan to protect their critical habitat. Photo © Milo Burcham

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a plan to designate 375,000 acres of critical habitat for the endangered South Selkirks mountain caribou. In May, thanks to Conservation Northwest and others, mountain caribou near Revelstoke received snowmobile recreation closures in caribou habitat. Both are important steps toward recovery of one of the most endangered mammals in North America.

For BC caribou, the 2009 Mountain Caribou Recovery Plan protects 5.4 million acres of caribou habitat from logging and road building. This year, augmentation of caribou to bolster dwindling herds is moving ahead at last.

Mountain caribou prefer high elevations and steep terrain with old-growth forests. Large hooves allow caribou to stay on top of deep snows to feed on lichens growing from low-hanging boughs. In winter, they rely almost exclusively on these arboreal lichens that grow only on trees more than 100 years old.

The greatest threats to mountain caribou survival are loss of old-growth forest, habitat fragmentation, the movement of predators into caribou habitat—and climate change.

Public comments to the critical habitat plan will be accepted until January 30, 2012. To make your voice heard, sign up to receive our email alerts!

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