Manitoba

Logging strategy to help threatened caribou

Forest areas in eastern Manitoba could be clear-cut by logging companies in an attempt to help threatened species of caribou.

Forest areas in eastern Manitoba could be clear-cut by logging companies in an attempt to help threatened species of caribou.

The provincial Conservation Department is working with several groups in the Bissett area to study the effects of logging practices on woodland caribou herds.

When the skies clear, researchers will conduct aerial surveys of animals in the area and their tracks. Over time, they hope to determine whether moose and deer are venturing into caribou territory, along with predators that follow them, such as wolves.

"More moose, more deer in the area, we don't want to see that because it's going to mean more wolves in there," explains Vince Crichton, a senior scientist with Manitoba Conservation. Caribou are not typically prey for wolves, but the predators will take them if they encounter them.

Crichton says the long-term goal could include logging larger areas of land to discourage deer and moose from entering caribou land.

"If we just did the small clear-cuts, selectively cutting as most of the cutting is done here in Manitoba, that's going to attract moose and deer into it because it's the type of habitat they like: small clear-cuts with new vegetation."

"What we're looking at is larger clear-cuts that will not make the habitat come back into habitat types that are going to be attractive to moose and deer."

The larger cuts would not affect the caribou population, he says, because it would involve mature habitat that the caribou are not using anymore.

Crichton says it's not unusual for Manitoba Conservation to work closely with major logging companies.

"We've got to be very diligent in terms of making sure that we set out guidelines for industrial development on the landscape," he said.