More than half of the caribou in the Central Selkirk Caribou Maternity Pen near Nakusp have recently brought new life into the world.
The Arrow Lakes Caribou Society (ALCS) is operating the Central Selkirk Caribou Maternity Pen for a second year in a recovery effort for the Central Selkirk herd of Southern Mountain Woodland Caribou.
Of the 14 animals that are in the pen this year, eight of them were identified as pregnant cows. From those pregnancies, one female calf and seven male calves were born.
According to the ALCS, the caribou are calving late this year compared to last year, and caribou typically calve around late May to early June.
“The calves are doing well and will be released soon,” said the ALCS in a press release. “The caribou are planned to be released six weeks after the last calf was born, which would make it sometime in mid to late July. However, due to increasing temperatures in the summer months, the pen will be closely monitored for living conditions, and the caribou may be released early to prevent the caribou from overheating.”
Caribou are being closely monitored by pen shepherds and some Ɂaq`am First Nations community members, and there is a controlled access zone on Kuskanax Forest Service Road around the maternity pen, starting 600m up from Hot Springs Road. The road is currently closed until further notice, to mitigate traffic around the pen.
Earlier this year, the last remaining female caribou from the South Columbia caribou herd was rescued and relocated to the Central Selkirk Caribou Maternity Pen. Following this relocation, the caribou herd near Revelstoke was declared extirpated.
The South Columbia caribou herd is the latest in a list of eradicated herds in the Revelstoke and Nakusp region over the last few years. In 2022, the Frisby-Boulder caribou herd was pronounced ‘functionally extirpated’. The Frisby Ridge area was stewarded by the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club for over a decade, however recovery operations could not save the herd. The Monashee caribou herd was also functionally extirpated back in 2016.
Previously, Parks Canada had said that they hope to see caribou return to the Columbia South region one day through the collaborative work being done by the Revelstoke Complex and Central Selkirks Caribou Technical Working Group representatives including seven First Nations and the provincial and federal governments.
More information is available at www.arrowlakescaribousociety.com.