Unique caribou partnership in B.C.‘s Columbia Mountains

Two mountain caribou in a pen.
Here, the Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild (RCRW) team releases two pregnant caribou in the safety of the maternity pen. Rob Buchanan photo

An ambitious project to increase calf survival among a herd of mountain caribou in B.C.’s Southern Columbia Mountains is going ahead this spring, thanks to funding and in-kind support from a variety of sources.

On Monday, March 24, 2014, a team of specialists captured 12 female caribou and transferred them to a specially built holding pen. There they will be fed and monitored, allowing the calves to be born safe from the species’ many predators. The mothers and their babies will stay in the pen until early July, where the young can grow and gain strength before release back into the wild.

One of the great strengths of this project is the range of collaborators involved, said Cory Legebokow, president of the Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild Society (RCRW).

“From government to industry to First Nations, from recreational users to resource extraction, diverse interests have been set aside to concentrate on what’s best for this fragile species,” said Legebokow. 

RCRW is a community-based partnership that includes:

  • Revelstoke Community Forestry Corporation
  • North Columbia Environmental Society
  • Revelstoke Snowmobile Club
  • Province of BC
  • Parks Canada
  • Columbia Mountains Caribou Research Project

Mountain caribou are listed as a threatened species under the Species at Risk Act and red-listed (threatened) in B.C. Mountain caribou numbers in the Revelstoke area have declined by 70 to 80 per cent over the past decade and current calf-survival rates cannot sustain the species in this region. RCRW is focusing its efforts on the largest and most stable of the local groups, the Columbia North herd.

The maternity penning project is going ahead thanks to funding support from the Government of Canada, Shell Canada, Parks Canada, Columbia Basin Trust and the Province of B.C. In-kind contributions have been made by the Province of B.C., Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation, Parks Canada, Selkirk Tangiers Heli-Skiing, Mustang Helicopters, Beaumont Timber, K3 Cat Skiing, board members, and many other businesses and volunteers. 

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