Chelsea Coady: Update on Maternity Enclosure and Caribou Habitat Restoration Projects for the Klinse-Za Herd


Eleven caribou calves born in a secure maternity enclosure at Mont Rochfort, near Hudson’s Hope, were recently released into the wild alongside their mothers.

Eleven caribou calves born in a secure maternity enclosure at Mont Rochfort, near Hudson’s Hope, were recently released into the wild alongside their mothers. With these new additions, Klinse-Za’s at-risk caribou herd is now estimated at around 116 animals, up from 36 in 2013.

With the release of the cows and calves, the eighth year of the Caribou Maternity Enclosure project draws to a close. But the work to help this herd recover continues. Protecting young calves at risk from predators is only part of herd recovery.

Our Peace Region Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program Board of Trustees funds the Maternity Enclosure and ongoing efforts to restore caribou habitat through deactivating roads and restoring l ‘habitat. Both projects are led by the Nîkanêse Wah tzee Stewardship Society, a non-profit initiative between West Moberly First Nations and Saulteau First Nations in collaboration with Wildlife Infometrics which manages the projects.

On the side of the maternity pen, 13 cows were captured in early spring, tagged, sampled and brought into the 15 hectare pen. The pen is a familiar place for most cows, 12 had been there before and seven were born there. Guardians from Saulteau and West Moberly First Nations monitor the enclosure 24 hours a day from the time the caribou enter until they are released, along with their calves, in mid-August. The youngest calf was eight weeks old when released and was less susceptible to predators such as bears, wolves and wolverines.

Equally important is habitat restoration, and when the caribou leave the enclosure, the goal is to give them access to the best possible habitat to increase their chances of survival. Several years ago, the FWCP funded a project to deactivate 2.3 km of an old industrial road near the previous maternity facility, which reduced access to caribou habitat for caribou. humans and predators. This work has given exceptional results and has been extended.

Last year, restoration activities were carried out at four sites, resulting in the restoration of 3,183 ha of habitat within the range of the Klinse-Za herd. Since the start of the restoration work, more than 100,000 seedlings have been planted and 35 km of linear corridors restored. At the watershed scale, restoration efforts have restored 13% of previously disturbed habitat (26,906 ha). And it doesn’t stop there. This year, the Nîkanêse Wah tzee Stewardship Society has identified three new road networks and plans to deactivate and restore up to 23 km of roads.

Why is the FWCP funding caribou recovery? Well, we are a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of British Columbia, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, First Nations and public stakeholders, and we fund projects that conserve and enhance fish and wildlife in watersheds. affected by BC Hydro.

dams. In our Peace Region, the caribou is one of our priority species – an important species for the indigenous nations of the region – and two of our priorities are to fund native-led maternal enclosure projects and to restore caribou habitat.

The woodland caribou is listed as endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act and is far from being out of the woods yet — and pardon the pun — but the efforts of the Nîkanêse Wah tzee Stewardship Society and many funding partners, including the FWCP, are showing signs of success with this particular herd.

Chelsea Coady is the Peace Region Manager for the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program. Have a question? Email him at [email protected]


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