Twelve caribou and nine calves were released from the maternity pen near Revelstoke in late July.
The maternity pen, located north of Revelstoke near Mica, was built by Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild, a coalition of local stakeholders, in an attempt to give new-born caribou a better chance of survival in the wild by protecting them in the first few crucial weeks of their life.
Nine pregnant caribou were captured in March and placed in the pen, where they were tended to by shepherds from the Okanagan Indian Band, Splatsin First Nation and two local retired professionals. One non-pregnant caribou and two near-yearlings were also captured and placed in the pen.
The caribou were released in late July once the calves were large and mobile enough to better survive predator attacks. The nine calves ranged in age from two to nine weeks old upon release.
The mothers and their calves are now moving back into prime caribou habitat in the sub-alpine. They have been radio collared and their future success will be monitored to help inform future maternity penning and other recovery efforts.
There are currently 124 caribou in the Columbia North herd. The herd has declined about 40 per cent in population since 1994 and the goal is to increase the numbers to a self-sustaining population of 250 caribou.
“This has been a collaborative effort among our group and we are extremely pleased with the success of the project to date,” said Kevin Bollefer, the spokesperson for RCRW in a government news release. “We would like to thank all of our funders and volunteers that have made this
The maternity pen was established by a number of local stakeholders, including Parks Canada, the Province of B.C., the Columbia Mountains Caribou Research Project, the Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation, the North Columbia Environmental Society, the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club, Mica Heli Guides and First Nations.
There are about 1,700 mountain caribou in British Columbia and the species is listed as threatened under the Federal Species at Risk Act and red-listed in British Columbia. The province has launched the Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan, with the goal to raise the mountain caribou population to more than 2,500 animals by 2027. Activities such as logging, road building and snowmobiling have been prohibited in mountain caribou habitat.