[April 6, 2023, Nakusp] – The Arrow Lakes Caribou Society successfully captured 14 caribou on March 28th from five locations northeast of Nakusp. Some of these adults were captured during 2022 operations, and some are new to the pen.
The caribou are now in the maternity pen and adapting nicely. The combined effort of 37 people across three teams made this possible, along with three helicopters and three snowmobiles with skimmers. The capture teams were led by expert wildlife capture personnel, the provincial government Caribou Recovery Team, wildlife veterinarians, local stakeholders, Ɂaq`am First Nations members and ALCS volunteers. Caribou were captured and transported by helicopter to the landing zone near the maternity pen where they were transferred into a snowmobile skimmer with an attendant, and carefully transported to the maternity pen. At the pen, wildlife veterinarians checked the animals and collected baseline health samples and data. We will know more from these samples in the following weeks, including how many of the cows are pregnant.
The purpose of maternity penning is to ensure pregnant cows are safe from predators during calving and to increase calf survival. This period of time in the pen also allows the animals to be fed a high nutrition diet, which improves their overall health and body condition.
The caribou will be kept in the pen through calving in May, until late July or August, depending on various factors including temperature in the pen. Caribou will be closely monitored by maternity pen shepherds from a specialty-built observation blind. Shepherds will include various stakeholder groups including some Ɂaq`am First Nations community members.
There is a controlled access zone on Kuskanax Forest Service Road around the maternity pen, starting 600 metres up from Hot Springs Road. A gate and information signage have been installed. The gate will be closed as necessary during critical periods – for example during calving in May, and currently until April 10th, 2023. Outside of these critical times, slow, quiet, and respectful access will be possible as per instructions on the signage and under the direction of ALCS and the BC Caribou Recovery Program. Sound management in the vicinity of the pen will be paramount to minimize disturbance to the caribou.
One of the caribou cows involved in this capture came from Mount Revelstoke National Park. She was translocated to the Central Selkirk Caribou Maternity Pen. For more information about this translocation, Parks Canada has a statement on their website.
Thank you to the community and local stakeholder groups for supporting this project.
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