Woodland Caribou Southern Mountain population
Scientific Name: Rangifer tarandus caribou
Other/Previous Names: Caribou (Southern Mountain population),Woodland Caribou (Southern Mountain population)
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia, Alberta
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2014
COSEWIC Status: Non-active
COSEWIC Status Criteria:
COSEWIC Reason for Designation:
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: The Southern Mountain population was designated Threatened in May 2000. This population was formerly designated as part of the "Western population" (now de-activated). Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2002. Following the Designatable Unit report on caribou (COSEWIC 2011), a new population structure was proposed and accepted by COSEWIC. This resulted in the new Southern Mountain population, composed of 17 subpopulations from the former Southern Mountain population of Woodland Caribou (COSEWIC 2002). The remaining subpopulations were assigned to the new Central and Northern Mountain populations.The Southern Mountain population of Caribou was designated Endangered in May 2014. The original Southern Mountain population of Woodland Caribou was de-activated.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2003-06-05
Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.
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Image of Woodland Caribou
There is some uncertainty about how different groups of caribou are related to each other. Technological advances in genetic analysis have clarified some issues, but studies are ongoing. In the meantime, caribou are classified by ecotype (where they occur and how they behave) for their management and conservation. There are three major types of caribou in Canada: Peary, Barren-ground, and Woodland. The Caribou dawsoni subspecies, traditionally grouped with the Woodland Caribou, is extinct. Results of recent research indicate that the caribou in the Dolphin and Union herd are unique. They resemble large Peary Caribou, but appear to be more closely related genetically to Barren-ground Caribou. Peary Caribou, the smallest, lightest-coloured, and least understood of the three races, are found only on the islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. They have access to a vast area of land, but only a limited portion contains suitable habitat. Barren-ground Caribou, slightly larger and darker, are found for much or all of the year on the tundra from Alaska to Baffin Island. They are by far the most abundant caribou; some herds in northern Canada number in the hundreds of thousands. They migrate seasonally, often along predictable routes, to the sparsely treed northern coniferous forests. Woodland Caribou, the largest and darkest-coloured, are irregularly distributed throughout our boreal forest and mountains from the island of Newfoundland to British Columbia. They are not migratory, but some herds, especially those in mountainous regions, move to different elevations with the seasons.
Caribou, ancient members of the deer family (Cervidae), are one of Canada’s most widely distributed large mammals. The name caribou is probably a corruption of the Micmac name “xalibu” — which means “the one who paws.” Caribou are unique among Cervids in that both sexes have antlers; however, some females have only one antler or lack them altogether. The antlers grow so rapidly that an adult male may show velvety lumps on his head in March and have a rack more than a metre in length by August. By February, all the caribou have lost their antlers. The Woodland Caribou’s coat is mostly brown in summer (more grey in winter), but the neck, mane, shoulder stripe, underbelly, underside of the tail, and patch just above each hoof are creamy white. The caribou is 1.0 to 1.2 m high at the shoulder, and mature individuals weigh 110 to 210 kg. The average weight for bulls is 180 kg; for cows, it is 135 kg. The antlers of the Woodland Caribou are flattened, complex, and compact relative to those of the Barren-ground Caribou.
Distribution and Population
Woodland Caribou occur in five of the eight National Ecological Areas recognized by COSEWIC, and in all jurisdictions in Canada except Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nunavut. The Northern Mountain population is comprised of 36 local populations in Yukon, Northwest Territories, and northwestern British Columbia. The Southern Mountain population is made up of 26 local populations in British Columbia and 4 in Alberta. The Boreal population covers a huge area from the Mackenzie Mountains in the northwest to southern Labrador in the east and as far south as Lake Superior. In Newfoundland, the Woodland Caribou can be found in 15 natural and 22 introduced local populations — both on the main island and on islands offshore. The Atlantic-Gaspésie population in Quebec is the only caribou herd that remains south of the St. Lawrence River. It is largely restricted to the summits of Mont Albert and Mont Jacques-Cartier in Parc de la Gaspésie on the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec. There are three recognized metapopulations of Southern Mountain Woodland Caribou in British Columbia — the isolated west central (5 local populations), the north central (8 local populations with 1 overlapping the Northern Mountain and 1 extending into Alberta), and the southern (13 local populations). The four Alberta populations are found in the Rocky Mountains and its foothills. Population surveys prior to 2002 estimate that there are 7200 caribou in the Southern Mountain population — 4% of all forest-dwelling caribou in Canada. Trends in numbers for 25 of 30 local populations are: 0 increasing; 13 about stable; and 12 decreasing. Only 2 of 30 local populations have more than 500 caribou, and 8 have fewer than 50. From 1997 to 2002, the average annual rate of decline of Southern Mountain Caribou was 2.47%. This rate would result in a 39.3% decline over 20 years. A 2003 survey failed to detect any animals or tracks from one local population (George Mountain), and it is now believed to be extirpated.
In winter, Woodland Caribou use mature and old-growth coniferous forests that contain large quantities of terrestrial and arboreal (tree-inhabiting) lichens. These forests are generally associated with marshes, bogs, lakes, and rivers. In summer, the caribou occasionally feed in young stands, after fire or logging. The average interval for habitats to return to their pre-fire state ranges from 40 to 80 years in the southern boreal forest in Alberta and Saskatchewan to 200 to 350 years in British Columbia. Both central metapopulations of Southern Mountain Woodland Caribou feed primarily on terrestrial (ground) lichens while individuals in the southern metapopulation consume arboreal (tree) lichens over a thick snow pack. In early winter, the arboreal-feeding caribou - sometimes called Mountain Caribou - use valley bottoms and lower slopes; they move to upper slopes and ridges after the snow pack deepens and hardens in mid- and late winter. They feed almost exclusively on arboreal lichens for six to eight months and descend in spring when the green vegetation emerges. The caribou that feed on terrestrial lichens tend to move to lower elevations as the snow pack increases.
The caribou is well adapted to its environment. It has a compact body, small ears, and a short tail — even the muzzle is covered in short hairs to protect it from the snow and cold air. The caribou‘s coat consists of a fine crimped under-fur with a thick layer of guard hairs on top. The guard hairs are hollow (like straws), and the air trapped inside acts as insulation to keep in the caribou's body heat. Caribou are excellent swimmers, and the hollow hairs help them to be buoyant in the water as well. Caribou have large feet with four toes. In addition to two small ones, called "dew claws," they have two large, crescent-shaped toes that support most of their weight and serve as shovels when digging for food under snow. These large concave hooves offer stable support on wet, soggy ground and on crusty snow. The pads of the hoof change from a thick, fleshy shape in the summer to become hard and thin in the winter months, reducing the animal’s exposure to the cold ground. Additional winter protection comes from the long hair between the "toes"; it covers the pads so the caribou walks only on the horny rim of the hooves. The rut, or mating period, for caribou usually occurs in late September and the first half of October. Caribou cows begin breeding as early as 16 months of age; most breed annually by the time they are 28 months old, typically giving birth to a single calf the following spring (mid-May to mid-June). The males may theoretically breed at 18 to 20 months of age, but most probably have no opportunity before their third or fourth year. During the rut, males engage in frequent and furious sparring battles with their antlers. Large males with large antlers do most of the mating. To calve, females travel to isolated, relatively predator-free areas such as islands in lakes, peatlands, lakeshores, or tundra. Group size is lowest during calving and in summer; it increases before the rut and may decline or increase over the winter. Group size at all seasons is larger for forest-tundra caribou than forest-dwelling caribou. Survival rates for calves average between 30% and 50%, but can vary from almost none to 100%. Many factors interact to determine calf survival, including quality and quantity of forage (for pregnant females and in the first year of life), number of predators, and weather. The potential for very high survival means that it is possible for local populations to increase rapidly when conditions are favourable. Caribou are grazing animals and feed on whatever plant material is available. Most feeding takes place in the morning and late evening, with periods of rest at midday and midnight. Caribou are the only large mammals that are able to use lichens as a primary source of food. They have specialized bacteria and protozoa in their stomachs that efficiently digest the lichens, allowing them to take advantage of this rich food source that is available during the winter when other foods are scarce. They also have an excellent sense of smell that helps them to locate lichens beneath snow. Caribou are preyed upon by wolves, bears, coyotes, cougar, and lynx, and are hunted by people. Caribou are constantly on the move. As a result, predators and parasites cannot predict where they will be found, and lichen ranges are not overused or trampled.
Habitat destruction, hunting, disturbance by humans (including construction of roads and pipelines), and predation (by wolves, coyotes, and bears) have all contributed to the decline of Woodland Caribou. In many parts of Woodland Caribou range, forestry practices and the spread of agriculture and mining have resulted in the loss, alteration, and fragmentation of important caribou habitat. Factors beyond our control, such as weather and climate change, are also influential. One of the current challenges in caribou management is to learn more about how these factors interact and how to decrease their threat to Woodland Caribou populations. Woodland Caribou in the Southern Mountain population are particularly vulnerable because the subpopulations typically have low numbers, and they are becoming increasingly isolated as a result of habitat fragmentation. In the past unregulated hunting has had a serious impact on these caribou.
Other Protection or Status
In 1984, caribou in the Selkirk Mountains of Idaho and Washington (known as the South Selkirks population), were listed as endangered under the United States Endangered Species Act.
Status of Recovery Planning
Recovery Strategies :
Name Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain population (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in Canada
Status First posting on SAR registry
Mountain Caribou Recovery Team (Southern Mountain Population)
Ian Hatter - Chair/Contact - Government of BC
Phone: 250-387- Fax: 250-356-9145 Send Email
Recovery Progress and Activities
Summary of Progress to Date
Habitat issues for the Southern Mountain Population of Woodland Caribou continue to be addressed through land-use plans such as the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy of the Forest and Range Practices Act of British Columbia, and various Higher Level Plans (HLP’s) and Land Resource Management Plans (LRMP’s). Recovery Implementation Plans have been developed by groups of stakeholders, First Nations, and biologists. The province of British Columbia has formed a Species at Risk Coordination Office (SaRCO), which is developing recovery options for the provincial government. Most local woodland caribou populations remain in decline; a few are currently stable or increasing. Two local populations have become extirpated.
Summary of Research/Monitoring Activities
Southern mountain Woodland Caribou are being monitored using radiotelemetry, Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, and ground tracking techniques. The distribution of the caribou is being entered into a Geographical Information System (GIS) database to determine how caribou move within and among patches of old forest. Forestry and habitat management studies have confirmed that the southern mountain Woodland Caribou select old-growth forests where their dominant winter food source (arboreal lichen) is most abundant. These forests are also thought to allow caribou to spatially separate themselves to reduce predation. Radio and GPS collars change their signal pattern when stationary for several hours, usually indicating a deceased individual. These situations are quickly investigated to determine the cause of mortality. Often predators such as wolves and cougars are also radio-collared to aid in this research.
Caribou-human interactions are being studied in several areas to determine how caribou react to human presence, in the form of helicopter or snowcat skiing, snowmobiling, or while on foot, skis, or snowshoes. To analyse the interaction, movement rates and location of GPS-collared caribou are compared before and after encounters with humans. In addition, stress hormones in caribou scat are analyzed as a measure of disturbance.
Summary of Recovery Activities
Revised guidelines have been developed for forest management, as well as back country recreation operators, working in mountain Woodland Caribou habitat. In Alberta, government and industries have initiated planning to facilitate timber harvesting and other human development within caribou habitat with minimal disturbance. The Operating Guidelines for Industry Activity in Caribou Ranges in West Central Alberta has been implemented since 2001.
Existing caribou public outreach materials have been revised and the preparation of a new communication plan is underway. Through the distribution of facts sheets, posters, brochures, and other forms of media, the public are being educated and encouraged to contribute toward Mountain Caribou conservation issues. Cooperative recovery and management projects have been developed with stakeholders, including First Nations, conservation groups, and resource development industries.
Individual caribou from healthy populations have been transplanted to those populations that are most endangered in order to reduce the chance of loosing these endangered populations. This functions to increase population size and the genetic pool for the endangered population.
Many areas of core caribou habitat have been closed to snowmobiling, and the helicopter / snowcat skiing industry has developed a set of best management practices. These include the avoidance of skiing in areas where caribou have been sighted and the alteration of flight paths to avoid caribou locations. Wildlife mangers have increased the hunting allocation of deer, moose, and elk in, and adjacent to, caribou habitat to reduce the alternate prey that these ungulates provide to predators, which would otherwise support higher populations of predators. In some areas in or near caribou habitat, the permits for hunting wolves or cougars have been allocated or increased.
Parks Canada: Jasper National Park’s Woodland Caribou: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/jasper/nature/conservation/eep-sar/caribou-jasper
Mountain caribou Project http://www.mountaincaribou.org/
Hinterland Who's Who: Caribou: http://www.hww.ca/hww2.asp?id=85
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
32 record(s) found.
The purpose of this agreement is to set out effective conservation and recovery measures that will be taken by the parties to support the conservation and recovery of Woodland Caribou critical habitat and local populations in Alberta. These measures include: habitat conservation and management, population management, population and habitat monitoring, and range planning.
Comments also being accepted on the Alberta Environment and Parks website until October 6, 2019.
Conserving wildlife is integral to Canada’s culture and natural environment and supports our health and economy. The Government of Canada is committed to working with the provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples, and stakeholders to manage and support the recovery of species at risk, including southern mountain caribou.
Section 11 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) allows Canada to enter into conservation agreements to benefit species at risk.
On February 21, 2020, the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia signed the Canada British Columbia Conservation Agreement for Southern Mountain Caribou in British Columbia. The bilateral agreement contains overarching commitments, measures and strategies for the recovery of southern mountain caribou throughout the range of the species in British Columbia.
On the same day, the Government of Canada, the Government of British Columbia, West Moberly First Nations, and Saulteau First Nations signed the Intergovernmental Partnership Agreement for the Conservation of the Central Group of the Southern Mountain Caribou. The Partnership Agreement is focused on three Central Group local population units of southern mountain caribou within British Columbia. The Partnership Agreement includes commitments related to interim and long term habitat protection, and to supporting operational recovery and habitat restoration actions for the Central Group of the southern mountain caribou.
COSEWIC Status Reports
Woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) are medium-sized (100-250 kg) members of the deer family. The taxonomy (classification) and systematics (evolutionary history) of caribou in Canada are uncertain. Based on mitochondrial DNA, caribou in North America evolved from two founding groups (clades) that differentiated in isolation during the last (Wisconsinan) glaciation. The southern clade supposedly evolved south of the continental ice sheet, whereas the northern clade was in a glacial refugium in Alaska and adjacent Arctic Canada. Populations that contained unique southern gene types were the Pukaskwa local population in Ontario and two in Newfoundland. In contrast, exclusively northern types occurred in four Yukon populations and in some forest-tundra and tundra ecotypes of barren-ground caribou (R. t. groenlandicus) in northern Canada. Most woodland caribou populations in the mountains of southern British Columbia (B.C.) and Alberta and in the boreal forest and taiga across Canada are mixtures of the two types. Some 'mixed' populations in the taiga exhibit two phenotypes and behave like the forest-tundra ecotype of barren-ground caribou.
A response statement is a communications document that identifies how the Minister of the Environment intends to respond to the assessment of a wildlife species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The document provides a start to the listing and recovery process for those species identified as being at risk, and provides timelines for action to the extent possible.
The Minister of the Environment and the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency are the competent ministers under SARA for southern mountain caribou. The Minister of the Environment led the preparation of this recovery strategy as per section 37 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with the Provinces of British Columbia and Alberta as per section 39(1) of SARA.
The Multi-species Action Plan for Banff National Park of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the park and within the Ya-Ha-Tinda Ranch federal Crown property administered by Parks Canada. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species at Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan that regularly occur at these sites.
The Multi-species Action Plan for Jasper National Park of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Jasper National Park of Canada (JNP). The plan meets the Species at Risk Act action plan requirements (SARA s.47) for Schedule 1 listed Endangered and Threatened species that regularly occur in the Park.
Park-specific objectives for species at risk are identified in this plan and represent the site’s contribution to objectives presented in federal recovery strategies. Species at risk, their residences, and their habitat are protected by existing regulations and management regimes in national parks and national historic sites as well as by SARA. The Multi-species Action Plan for Jasper National Park of Canada describes additional measures that will contribute to the survival and recovery of the SARA listed species in JNP. Site-specific objectives are identified to help recover and/or manage the identified species, to be met through a number of recommended management activities. These activities represent the site’s contribution to objectives presented in federal recovery strategies and management plans. These measures were identified based on threats and actions outlined in federal and provincial status assessments and recovery documents, as well as knowledge of the status and needs of each species in JNP. Population monitoring measures are also identified for the species for which management activities at the sites can contribute to recovery objectives.
The Multi-Species Action Plan, Mount Revelstoke National Park of Canada and Glacier National Park of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks (MRG). The plan meets the Species at Risk Act action plan requirements for Schedule 1 listed endangered and threatened species that regularly occur in the parks. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern in MRG.
COSEWIC Annual Reports
Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to "assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species".
COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2013 to September, 2014) from November 24 to November 29, 2013 and from April 27 to May 2, 2014. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species.
The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following:
Special Concern: 20
Data Deficient: 0
Not at Risk: 1
Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 25 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.
Permits and Related Agreements
The South Jasper Caribou project has four components: 1) monitoring population dynamics; 2) researching caribou ecology; 3) implementing recovery actions; and 4) communicating recovery goals. 1) We are monitoring population size, adult survival, and calf recruitment using radio-telemetry and aerial surveys. 2) We are researching caribou habitat use and selection (using GPS radio-telemetry location data), fladry as a predator-mobility deterrent, lithium chloride as a caribou deterrent (to keep caribou off highways), and wolf ecology. We are also investigating non-invasive methods of caribou population monitoring (fecal DNA). 3) We are implementing several recovery actions: reduced speed limits in caribou habitat, eliminating ski track-setting in caribou habitat, banning dogs from caribou habitat, establishing aircraft flight guidelines, establishing prescribed burn and firefighting guidelines, and changing visitor behaviour through education and awareness. 4) We are communicating our recovery goals through direct contact with the public, media releases, and by participating in public events organized by the Friends of Jasper volunteer organization. Our approach to recovering woodland caribou is the results of a collaborative process involving Jasper residents, local business owners, and Parks staff.
The Wolves, Caribou, Forestry and Roads in West-Central Alberta project is a regional-scale research project aimed at understanding how human development influences caribou across all the ranges of caribou in west-central Alberta, including Jasper National Park. Woodland caribou populations outside of Jasper National Park are declining rapidly in Alberta, and by comparing caribou population ecology inside and outside National Parks such as Jasper, we will be able to draw firm conclusions and make strong recommendations to ensure provincial caribou recovery. This will benefit Jasper National Park caribou populations by ensuring they are part of a viable meta-population of caribou. Our project has four major components: 1) Landscape genetics and population structure of west-central caribou populations; 2) To understand what are the empirical mechanisms for improved wolf predation efficiency in human dominated landscapes; 3) To understand the relationships between forage, primary prey, and caribou; 4) To answer how do caribou migratory patterns and spatial separation from wolves change over regional gradients in human development? These reseach questions address key research priorities of the Alberta Government Caribou Recovery Plan developed in consultation with Industry and Conservation partners. We will work with ongoing caribou recovery research in Jasper National Park (Local # 2007-972) to take advantage of data already being collected on population dynamics, caribou ecology, and predator-prey dynamics by pooling Jasper data with similar data for wolf-caribou dynamics over all 6 populations of woodland caribou in west-central Alberta.
Construction at Mistaya Canyon in Banff National Park to expand parking capacity and allow safer access to the site for vehicles will result in destruction of one hectare of high elevation critical habitat for Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain population.
Parks Canada is actively engaged in Southern Mountain Caribou conservation initiatives for the Revelstoke-Shuswap Local Population Unit, including the Columbia South and Columbia North herds. Parks Canada is delivering on a number of caribou conservation initiatives both inside Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks (for example, Mount Klotz winter closure) and outside of the parks (for example, connectivity corridor mapping and remote camera deployment in caribou home range). Parks Canada's commitments for caribou in the Multi-Species Action Plan for Mount Revelstoke National Parks of Canada and Glacier National Park of Canada include several actions aimed at managing the timing and extent of human activities in caribou habitat to reduce disturbance to the animals, and contributing to broader conservation and recovery initiatives for the Revelstoke-Shuswap Local Population Unit. Collars are an excellent source of nearly real-time location data that can inform decisions such as where and when to implement area closures for winter habitat or areas to limit helicopter use based on caribou presence. In collaboration with the province of British Columbia, Parks Canada will hire an experienced contractor to capture and radio collar four Southern Mountain Caribou: two animals in Columbia South and two in Columbia North.
At the Mount Edith Cavell day use area in Jasper National Park, the Parks Canada Agency will be rehabilitating infrastructure and rerouting a road damaged in a flood event in 2012, expanding the parking lot to reduce congestion along the road, and repairing and adding to the trail network to contribute to visitor experience and reduce off-trail wandering and associated negative impacts. The project falls within high elevation critical habitat for the Tonquin subpopulation of Woodland Caribou (Southern Mountain Population), which occurs within the Jasper-Banff Local Population Unit as described in the 2014 recovery strategy for the species. Whitebark Pine also occurs within the project area, and areas where trail work will occur likely meet the criteria of regeneration critical habitat as described in the draft recovery strategy for the species.
ATCO Electric will construct and operate the ATCO Electric Jasper Interconnection Project, which will connect Jasper National Park with the Alberta Interconnected Electric System via a 44.7 km aboveground transmission line and a new substation. The vegetation clearing associated with the project is primarily located along the Right?of?Way and in the Montane ecoregion of Jasper National Park, and occurs within Type 2 Matrix critical habitat for the Jasper/Banff local population unit of caribou. ATCO Electric anticipates that 27,000 trees will be removed (a total clearing of 62.5?74.2 ha) and that up to 46 ha of the total area of Type 2 Matrix critical habitat for the species will not be reforested. Effects of the project will result in a net increase in forage for non?caribou ungulates and may result in increased abundance of deer and elk in the area, providing more food for wolves. The magnitude of impact on wolves in unknown, but it is well established that conversion of vegetation from forest to grass and forb cover can increase density and/or abundance of ungulates and that cascades to increases to density of wolves. This type of landscape change, albeit on a much larger scale, is identified as the main threat to caribou populations across Canada.
The Jasper Caribou project has four components: 1) monitoring; 2) research; 3) recovery; and 4) communication. Monitoring: we are monitoring population size, adult survival, and calf recruitment using radio-telemetry, aerial surveys, and DNA mark/recapture techniques. Research: we are researching the ecological relationships between caribou, elk, and wolves through a project involving the Universities of Calgary and Montana, and the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, as well as several industrial partners. We aim to determine population densities, species-specific kill rates, and predator/prey habitat selection to understand the ecological conditions necessary for caribou persistence, and to therefore guide us in determining appropriate recovery actions. We are also researching the feasibility of non-invasive methods of caribou population monitoring (fecal DNA) in conjunction with the University of Manitoba and Trent University. Our involvement in smaller research projects, such as caribou parasitology and rutting behaviour, also continues. Recovery: we are currently implementing some recovery actions recommended through a collaborative process involving Jasper residents, local business owners, and Parks staff in 2005. Actions include reduced speed limits in caribou habitat, eliminating ski track-setting in caribou habitat, banning dogs from caribou habitat, establishing aircraft flight guidelines, establishing fire management guidelines, and changing visitor behaviour through education and awareness. We are entering a new phase of caribou recovery planning within the mountain parks that will be established in conjunction with park management planning. Communication: we are communicating our monitoring, research, and recovery results through direct contact with the public, media releases, and by participating in public events organized by Parks Canada and the Friends of Jasper organization.
The South Jasper Caribou Research Program has four main components, each of which will improve our understanding of caribou conservation in south Jasper National Park. First, we are monitoring caribou population parameters - population size, adult survival, calf recruitment and survival, and causes of mortality. Precise monitoring is needed to assess the success of management actions. Second, we are collaborating on a large-scale, multi-jurisdictional study of the predator / prey dynamic in the Rocky Mountains as it relates to caribou conservation. A realistic predator / prey model is needed o guide Parks Canada conservation efforts and will also contribute to caribou conservation on provincial lands. Third, we are helping to investigate the efficacy of non-invasive population monitoring techniques. Caribou are a sensitive, threatened species, so if our non-invasive techniques are successful, we will be able to reduce the stress that telemetry can impose. Fourth, we are quantifying the human use of caribou habitat. The research program involves capture of individuals in the winter to place collars and collect blood samples; tracking of collared individuals in the spring; collection of scat twice during the winter; and conducting necropsies on any collared caribou that die during the year and collecting tissue samples for genetic analysis. There are no impacts to residences or critical habitat.
As part of a study on the influences of industry and apparent competition on caribou decline in Northern Manitoba and Alberta, permission was sought to obtain Parks Canada archived hair samples from Woodland Caribou that were collected during previous research studies and stored in freezers. Hair samples will be analyzed for chemical content to be measured against the diet of predators in relation to the degree of industrial development on the landscape. There will be no direct contact with individuals but the researcher requires possession of a small amount of previously collected and archived Woodland Caribou hair (50 hairs). The hair samples were collected during previous studies which involved capture events and collection of hair and which were conducted with the necessary permits and authorizations. The proponent will only take subsamples from archived samples available, leaving hair for further non-invasive research studies. If the amount of hair required is not available in the sample, no subsample shall be taken and the main sample shall remain in Parks Canada's possession. There will be no buying, selling or trading of hair samples.
The mountain national parks caribou conservation project is acquiring shed woodland caribou antlers from the Calgary Zoo for use in public outreach, education and visitor experience activities. Raising awareness of threats to woodland caribou and management actions will assist in recovering the species.
Parks Canada is examining next steps for recovery of caribou within Jasper National Park, and continued monitoring wolves and caribou will be used to inform future decisions. The Agency will monitor caribou by helicopter (determining minimum population size and composition) and collect fecal samples as a component of non-invasive population monitoring (DNA extracted from fecal samples contributes to population estimates and calculation of vital rates). This activity may temporarily displace individuals from preferred habitats and increase sensory disturbance in caribou habitat. However, but mitigations to reduce these impacts will be taken and the activity is not expected to affect the functionality of caribou habitat.
Parks Canada is examining next steps for recovery of caribou within Jasper National Park, and continued monitoring wolves and caribou will be used to inform future decisions. The Agency will monitor caribou by helicopter (determining minimum population size and composition) and collect fecal samples as a component of non-invasive population monitoring (DNA extracted from fecal samples contributes to population estimates and calculation of vital rates). This activity may temporarily displace individuals from preferred habitats and increase sensory disturbance in caribou habitat. However, mitigations to reduce these impacts will be taken and the activity is not expected to affect the functionality of caribou habitat. In March 2021, Parks Canada will capture and radio collar females in the Tonquin caribou herd in order to better understand cause-specific mortality, current habitat use, and to determine a health profile of this herd (from blood and tissue samples).
Two caribou heads (with antlers) were collected from individuals that died in an avalanche in Banff National Park. They will be processed by a taxidermist and then kept by Parks Canada Agency interpretive staff for use in public outreach and education initiatives. The caribou belonged to the Southern Mountain Population of Woodland Caribou, which is listed on Schedule 1 of SARA as Threatened. Possession of a derivative of a listed individual is prohibited under SARA s.32(2).
Parks Canada will be conducting a prescribed fire on the south aspect of lower Mountain Creek approximately six kilometers east of the Trans-Canada Highway (Glacier National Park); conducting guard burning towards a future prescribed fire at 20-mile on the east side of the Beaver Valley (Glacier National Park); and conducting site preparations (for example, tree removal) towards a future prescribed fire east of the Meadows in the Sky Parkway (Mount Revelstoke National Park). These activities can only be conducted when environmental conditions are optimal and will not be occurring throughout the duration of the authorization. Prescribed fires are required to restore ecological integrity by mimicking natural disturbances in areas where wildfires were historically suppressed and provide young seral forests with fire-generated habitat, which will contribute to forest health and increased habitat biodiversity. They result in reduced wildfire risk by creating landscape level barriers that limit the potential for uncontrollable wildfire fire spread, and protect park staff and visitors, valuable infrastructure, facilities, and natural and cultural resources.
These activities will contravene section 32 and/or 58 of the Species at Risk Act for Whitebark Pine and/or Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain Population. Whitebark Pine occur in the lower Mountain Creek and 20-mile burn units. Whitebark Pine in the 20-mile burn unit show a high incidence of blister rust, and do not appear to be sufficiently dense to qualify as seed dispersal critical habitat as described in the draft recovery strategy for the species. There is a health monitoring transect in the south portion of the 20-mile burn unit that would qualify as recovery critical habitat. There is no information on infection rates or stand density in the lower Mountain Creek but the Whitebark Pine stand in that burn unit will be protected (see mitigations). Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain Population, and high or low elevation critical habitat identified for the species, occur within the vicinity of all burn units. Critical habitat for the Revelstoke-Shuswap Local Population Unit (containing the Columbia South subpopulation) overlaps with the lower Mountain Creek, Parkway and northern portion of the 20-mile burn units. Critical habitat for the Central Kootenay Local Population Unit (containing the Duncan subpopulation) overlaps with the southern portion of the 20-mile burn unit.
Census of mountain caribou by helicopter overflights annually.
Parks Canada Agency will be working in conjunction with the province of British Columbia to conduct an annual census of Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain Population, using fixed wing aircraft. Census flights require flying as close as 100 metres of caribou, depending on visibility in treed habitat, and thus may constitute harassment of individuals.
Parks Canada Agency will be working in conjunction with the province of British Columbia to conduct an annual census of Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain Population, using helicopters. Census flights require flying as close as 100 metres of caribou, depending on visibility in treed habitat, and thus may constitute harassment of individuals.
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The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 521 wildlife species at risk.
Please submit your comments byApril 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultationsand byOctober 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please see:Species at Risk Public Registry website
Conserving wildlife is integral to Canada’s natural environment and supports our health and economy. The Government of Canada is committed to working with the provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples and stakeholders to manage and support the recovery of species at risk.
On February 24, 2017 the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, and the Honourable Mary Polak, Minister of Environment for British Columbia, released the final report from a jointly-conducted study on the protection of Southern Mountain Caribou and their habitat.
The study will inform provincial and federal decision-making with respect to the ongoing protection and recovery of Southern Mountain Caribou and its critical habitat.
The full report is available now and was open to public comment for a period of 30 days (from February 24th to March 26, 2017).
As a result of comments received, factual corrections to the Protection Study have been made. The changes made can be found here. The final version of the Protection Study is available here.
These comments will be taken into consideration as the federal government and BC proceed with decision making with respect to the ongoing protection and recovery of southern mountain caribou.
On May 4, 2018, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced that the Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain population (southern mountain caribou) is facing imminent threats to its recovery. As required under subsection 80(2) of the Species at Risk Act, the Minister recommended that an emergency order be made to provide for the protection of the species. The Government of Canada declined the making of an emergency order at this time, and opted to take a collaborative, stewardship-based approach to work towards addressing the imminent threats facing the species.
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change has determined that Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain population is facing imminent threats to its recovery.
Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette
The Southern Mountain population of the Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), also known as southern mountain caribou, is listed on Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act as threatened. Southern mountain caribou are a medium-sized member of the deer family and are found within forested areas of the Southern Mountain National Ecological Area in Alberta and British Columbia. The Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain population (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in Canada identifies critical habitat for the species in a number of areas, including four federally protected areas.