This is one of the most complex stories so far this month. This animal is almost extinct in the US. It seems that because Woodland Caribou spend more time in Canada and aren’t money makers for hunting/sight seeing in the US they were not given proper support through the ESA to ensure their survival in the lower 48.
About Them: Woodland Caribou, also called Mountain or Boreal Caribou, are a separate subspecies from the barren land caribou we see in abundance that migrate across Alaska. They are larger, darker, elusive because they live in forests, and don’t migrate long distance. They migrate up into the mountains during winter. They still need a wide range of old growth forest and are very sensitive to disturbance. There is not a sustainable population in the US anymore, it looks like possibly only 3 females are left of the Selkirk group. Their extinction in the lower 48 is eminent.
The Southern Selkirk Mountains group was the last population of Woodland Caribou that ranged into the US between northern Idaho to northeastern Washington.
Their plight: The land Woodland Caribou live on is rich with resource. The region has been mined, explored for gas and oil and clear cut for logging. Roads and snowmobile paths also crisscross the habitat. This fragmented the remaining woodlands as well as limited the density or caused total removal of the trees that are part of the caribou’s cover. This change of habitat additionally made the woods more adaptable for other species, deer, elk and moose. These animals being present and thriving increased predator populations. Woodland Caribou originally adapted to survive by living where other species could not, deep unpassable old growth forest and mountains. As the Caribou population dwindled they were not healthy enough to handle this new predation.
Generally large prey animals will be given good range because they are hunted or make money through sight seers. The Woodland Caribou is considered the ghost of the forest meaning they don’t provide enough economic gain to warrant widespread forest allocation.
What we should consider: Humans live an existence supported by lumber. We are not going to stop logging and using trees for our houses and toilet paper and everything else. Animals also need the trees and to live in undisturbed forest to survive. How do you have both these animals survive and humans get what they need from the land? For human needs to be met do we have to forsake the survival of another species? Is it possible to have healthy resource gathering practices that don’t aggressively change the environment?
Humans are a massive species on this earth and we have decided we want a lot to be comfortable and live the way we have settled as how it is supposed to be. Big house, lots of needed electricity, nonnative gardens, the list goes on. Presently these human goals aren’t sustainable especially as more and more of our earth’s human population wants them. It is unfortunate that it is very hard to grasp what is individually done is also done by millions or billions of others and how huge that impact is.
**One article talked about the difficult decision to cull gray wolf populations when there was some hope of saving the Selkirk Woodland Caribou population. Many people read ‘cull wolf population’ and made an outcry for it to stop. However, at the time it was in an effort to save the caribou species from over abundance of predation. Please do your due-diligence and read all the way through an article before you make a decision to act with a call-to-action.
What is being done: They have tried captive breeding, but the rates of success are almost worse than in the wild. Hopefully with more research they will be able to reverse this trend. We now have to turn our hopes to Canada for this species’ survival, to see if they can see our failure and apply better solutions. They are still building their legislation to protect species and roll out habitat protections. Canada has a population of Woodland Caribou, but they are in decline.
How to help: Consider sending aid to Canada’s research. -> https://www.conservationnw.org/our-work/wildlife/mountain-caribou/
Make daily choices that require the use of less resources. Turn off lights, use less paper, buy second hand, repair and reuse. Do your best to be less impactful on the world in a use way. Obviously be an awesome spirit that impacts others with joy and ideas!
I always go with the Boy and Girl Scout motto, “leave no trace” or how I heard it phrased, “leave it better than you found it.” I wished it was remembered and implemented by more people.
Call out industry that is not using good practices for the environment. Call into your representatives to demand policy that restricts bad practices and makes companies accountable for their actions. Don’t purchase from companies that don’t follow sustainable practices.
Further Reading, my sources:
[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]