Caribou Recovery Program Management Activities

Caribou management activities in B.C. are extensive and varied. Read more about how these activities are being used with the goal of achieving a self-sustaining caribou population.

 

Captive Breeding

 

  • Captive breeding is a commonly used process in wildlife reserves, zoos, botanic gardens, and other conservation facilities
  • Details of how this could help to support caribou recovery in B.C. are currently being developed
 

Maternal Penning

 

  • In its simplest form, maternity (or maternal) penning involves capturing female caribou in late spring and transporting them to a secure enclosure
  • Pregnant females are able to give birth in a predator free environment 
  • Once the youngest calf reaches approximately 2-6 weeks old, they are released back into the wild with their mothers
  • British Columbia currently has two active maternity penning projects: one near Revelstoke,  and another in the Northeast at Klinse-Za

 

  • This is the purposeful moving of caribou from one sub population to another
  • Also called “augmentation” for the receiving sub population
  • This has been used several times in BC in attempts to either bolster small populations or to establish caribou in vacant habitat

 

  • Predators are typically managed in one of three ways or in combinations of these methods:
    1. Through regulated hunting and trapping (eg. increased season lengths, bag limits, removing female quota, etc.)
    2. Through the management of their primary prey populations; and,
    3. Through direct removal
  • B.C. is actively utilizing all three approaches in select areas to manage predator populations to support caribou recovery

 

  • Logging and forest fires have changed some of the woodland caribou’s forest habitats 
  • The resulting young forests support higher populations of moose, elk and deer
  • These primary prey species support populations of predators increasing their density
  • Caribou are susceptible to the resulting higher predator density and become secondary prey
  • Reducing other prey species in and around caribou habitat may help reduce the presence of predators, reducing predation on the caribou
  • This idea is being tested in pilot projects to reduce moose numbers in the Parsnip and Revelstoke areas - findings from these ongoing projects will influence decisions for habitat, and could lead to a standard approach in similar habitats
  • The caribou recovery program is actively exploring options for managing habitat in ways that will be less desirable for moose, deer, and elk

 

  • A number of factors contribute to caribou herds leaving their preferred habitat where they have access to fewer and less nutritious food
  • Ongoing research projects suggest that focused supplemental feeding could offset or supplement the availability of easy high-quality food in the wild, and may be a practical way to promote population growth
  • Better fed healthier animals are more likely to have strong offspring

 

  • Two methods of habitat restoration are being implemented in the province: functional and ecological restoration
  • Functional restoration is aimed at reducing the use of linear features; roads, trails, rights-of-way, and seismic lines
  • Wolves, other large predators and people can move along these access routes more quickly than through dense bush, and easily travel to caribou habitats that were once difficult to reach
  • Restoration activities include replanting routes that are no longer in use, placing slash, trees and other debris across trails, disrupting sightlines, and putting up fences
  • Ecological restoration refers to the regeneration of a disturbed ecosystem to its pre-disturbed state; tree replanting, enhanced site work, controlling herbaceous species such as willow, and the use of fertilizers help speed up the ecological restoration of disturbed habitat

 

  • High quality caribou habitat is actively being researched, analysed and consulted in many areas across the province
  • Past strategies to protect caribou and other species have been through regulating land-use activities to reduce negative impacts
  • Canada’s Caribou Recovery Strategy under the Species at Risk Act expects that critical caribou habitat in the province be “effectively protected”
  • In general, this means human activities should be managed so that there is a high degree of certainty that caribou and caribou habitat will not be impacted, degraded or destroyed

 

  • Backcountry recreational activity can disturb or displace caribou from their preferred habitat, which results in increased energy expenditure by the caribou and can lead to an increase in health problems
  • Controlled and limited access to sensitive habitats in the backcountry is the most effective way to reduce disturbance to caribou from tourism and recreational activities in some areas
  • Public and stakeholder education is vital to raise awareness, to boost a stewardship culture, and encourage desired behaviour in tourism and recreational user groups
  • B.C. has a long history of working with tourism and recreation groups and provincial organizations to support this work
  • Educating the public on the potential impacts of their activities on caribou herds and their habitats is essential, especially as more and more people want to visit the backcountry

 

  • Implementation of the Provincial Caribou Recovery Program is being monitored closely to determine whether projects need to be modified or revised in order to meet recovery goals and objectives
  • Research is being conducted to address knowledge gaps and provide land managers with evidence to either substantiate or negate new and innovative systems, existing projects, pilot projects and research to support caribou recovery in the province
  • Performance management and effectiveness monitoring is incorporated into all aspects of the Provincial Recovery Program to evaluate the efficacy of management techniques and provide recommendations to improve the Program