Caribou Health

Boreal caribou in Northeastern British Columbia appear to be declining and are considered threatened. Infectious diseases and other health issues are now seen as possible causes of caribou population declines, through their effect on survival and reproduction.

Boreal Caribou Health Research Program

A Boreal Caribou Health Research Program (BCHRP) was created in fall 2013 to

1) Address gaps in what we know about the current health status of boreal caribou in Northeastern B.C.

2) Find out if poor health was part of the reason why more caribou than expected have died in Northeastern B.C.

3) Provide health-related recommendations to B.C.’s boreal caribou management programs

As part of the BCHRP, researchers take biological samples to see if boreal caribou are exposed to or infected with certain bacterial, viral, and parasitic diseases. They also take other health measurements that can reveal chronic physiological stress or poor nutrition.

The BCHRP will provide a new, detailed picture of herd-level health of boreal caribou. It will help determine the best ways to manage and conserve boreal caribou in Northeastern B.C.

Strategies that are developed to evaluate, monitor, and protect the health of boreal caribou as part of this program will also benefit other woodland caribou conservation initiatives in B.C. and elsewhere, and provide a starting point for similar studies in other species at risk.