Quirks & Quarks

Caribou Face Extinction Due to Development

Development shrinks and fragments woodland caribou habitat, and makes them more vulnerable to predators

In central BC an important population has declined more than 60%

Caribou from the Quintette herd in central British Columbia (Libby Ehlers)
Woodland Caribou populations across Canada have seen declines in recent years, but they've been particularly serious in areas where industrial development has invaded previously undisturbed wilderness habitat.

Dr. Chris Johnson, an ecologist from the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, has been studying a distinct population in the central mountain region of BC and Alberta, which has lost more than 60 % of its numbers in the last twenty years. GPS collaring of the animals has shown that they avoid disturbances, such as road building, forestry, coal mining and oil and gas development, which has drastically reduced their habitat.

These disturbances have also led to more predators entering the area and fewer places for the caribou to hide from them. Dr. Johnson suggests that all this means that this important population of caribou are at definite risk of extinction.

Related Links

- Paper in Biological Conservation
Globe and Mail article