The Maternity Pen Project, directed by the Arrow Lakes Caribou Society, is one of the management actions of ALCS, that can assist in the recovery of Southern Mountain Central Selkirk Caribou.
The maternity pen, located in the Kuskanax Creek area, near Nakusp Hot Springs, will be a safe environment for female caribou to bear and raise their calves, away from predators.
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HOW TO DONATE:
Visit our Go Fund Me campaign to learn how you can contribute to the Arrow Lakes Caribou Society, caribou maternity pen project. Go Fund Me: gofund.me/7a6d1d50
April 6, 2023: 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.
Follow this project on our social media, Facebook: @arrowlakescaribou, Instagram: @arrow_lakes_caribou.
Or, for more information contact the society by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 27th, 2023: Central Selkirk Caribou Maternity Pen Year 1 Summary
We’ve prepared a summary of the first year of operations at the Central Selkirk Caribou Maternity Pen. See the summary for pen site operations, collected data from calving, and outcomes from penning.
September 28th, 2022: Central Selkirk Caribou Maternity Pen Project Video
The Arrow Lakes Caribou Society was pleased to work with Christine Nielsen on a video project showcasing the Central Selkirk Caribou Maternity Pen.
The video explains the importance of maternity penning for this species at risk, and details the project objectives moving forward into year two of maternity pen operations, and beyond.
Special thanks to all of the volunteers, donors, supporters and videographers Frankowski Pictures and Bohdan Doval and the video editor Carlo Alcos.
July 25th, 2022: CARIBOU RELEASED FROM CENTRAL SELKIRK MATERNITY PEN
The Arrow Lakes Caribou Society released all 13 of the caribou from the Central Selkirk Maternity Pen on Friday, July 22nd. The geotextile fabric of the maternity pen was cut at 5:00 am on Friday, July 22nd to create an exit point for the caribou. The caribou were apprehensive at first and unsure about exiting the pen, but they were interested in the lichen that was spread around outside the pen. ALCS shepherds set up temporary fencing along the Kuskanax Forest Service Road to encourage the caribou to travel up Raven Creek, which is the fastest route to the alpine from the maternity pen location.
One by one, the group exited the pen. As soon as they were all out of the pen, they quickly realized they could run and found a trail up Raven Creek to travel together. The caribou had left the pen and started travelling up to the alpine by 5:30 am on Friday.
GPS collar data showed the first of the caribou were in the alpine by the evening of July 22nd. And, the whole group arrived in the alpine by the morning of Sunday, July 24th. The GPS collars will allow ALCS and provincial government biologists to monitor the cows and calves throughout their range over the next year.
ALCS wants to express their appreciation to the various groups that were integral to this project’s success. Thank you to the BC Ministry of Land, Water, and Resource Stewardship, the BC Caribou Recovery Program, the Ktunaxa Nation, wildlife veterinarian, Amelie Mathieu, and veterinary student Morgan Kelley for assisting with the release of the caribou.
ALCS will now be evaluating the outcomes of the first project year for the Central Selkirk Maternity Pen and start planning for year two operations. The next caribou capture is planned for Spring 2023, and ALCS hopes for many more healthy caribou calves. Follow our social media for more information, updates and future project news. Facebook: @arrowlakescaribou, Instagram: @arrow_lakes_caribou.
July 15th, 2022: CARIBOU MATERNITY PEN PROJECT UPDATE
Six calves were born at the Central Selkirk caribou maternity pen between May 24 and June 11, 2022. The calves, three females and three males were examined shortly after birth and were all deemed healthy. They were given ear tags, fitted with radio collars, and were quickly reunited with their mothers. The oldest cow required veterinary assistance to deliver a malpositioned stillborn. She, unfortunately, succumbed to a uterine infection 16 days later despite intensive medical care from wildlife veterinarians. The caribou are still a tight-knit group and the calves enjoy playing and exploring together. All six calves continue to do well and have already more than tripled their birth weight!
The location of the maternity pen has proved ideal. It is quiet and provides the caribou with a variety of landscape features and browsing opportunities. Its proximity to Nakusp has also been incredibly helpful in finding accommodations for the shepherds and easing access to supplies. Both the pen construction and the remote camera system have been very effective in safeguarding the animals. There have been a few sightings of black bears and a grizzly bear near the pen, but they show no interest in the pen and the caribou never seemed disturbed by their presence. The local community has been very respectful of the temporary access closure during the calving season.
The animals will be released soon, in late July. The exact release date will be determined by the weather and the age of the calves. Animals will be released earlier if the weather forecast calls for high temperatures to prevent the animals from experiencing heat stress. So far, the weather has been cooperating, with cooler and rainier conditions than expected. Caribou appear comfortable, even on warmer days. They spend time in all areas of the pen and occasionally enjoy bedding down on the two snow piles that were stockpiled in late winter. Two gravity water misting systems were also installed to help alleviate the heat.
ALCS is thankful for all the support the project has received throughout the calving season. We are very appreciative of the expertise provided by wildlife veterinarian Dr. Amélie Mathieu and veterinary technician Dan Wallon as well as the support provided by the Nakusp Veterinary Clinic. We are also grateful for the shepherding assistance from ALCS members; BC Ministry of Land, Water, and Resource Stewardship staff; veterinary and university students; and BC and US First Nations communities under the steady guidance of maternity pen manager, Paul Seaton. ALCS appreciates the public’s continued cooperation while caribou are still residing in the pen. Please be sure to check our website (www.arrowlakescaribousociety.com) for more information about when the caribou will be released.
May 24th: KUSKANAX FOREST SERVICE ROAD GATE CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
No access beyond the Peter Rolston trailhead until further notice, due to caribou calving season. Please obey all signage. The Arrow Lakes Caribou Society gate will be locked until calving and subsequent vulnerable time periods are complete. Thank you for your cooperation.
May 24th: FIRST CARIBOU CALF IS BORN
The Arrow Lakes Caribou Society is excited to announce the birth of the first caribou calf this season! One of the seven cows has given birth this morning (May 24th). It is expected for the other six cows to give birth within the next couple of weeks.
April 29th: ALL SEVEN CENTRAL SELKIRK MATERNITY PEN CARIBOU COWS ARE PREGNANT
The Arrow Lakes Caribou Society is excited to announce that all seven cows in our care in the Central Selkirk Maternity Pen are pregnant. This is consistent with the Provincial average pregnancy rate for southern mountain caribou, which is very high. Calving is expected to begin around the May long weekend so stay tuned for the exciting news.
March 24th: CARIBOU CAPTURE SUCCESSFUL FOR CENTRAL SELKIRK MATERNITY PEN
The Arrow Lakes Caribou Society was successful on March 24th capturing seven adult females and one yearling female caribou from three locations northeast of Nakusp. The caribou are in the maternity pen and adapting nicely. The combined effort of 32 people divided into three teams made this possible along with three helicopters, two snowmobiles, and two skimmers. These capture crews were led by expert wildlife capture personnel, from Bighorn Helicopters, the provincial government Caribou Recovery Team, and local foresters, biologists, local stakeholders, and ALCS volunteers. Caribou were captured and flown inside the helicopter to within the vicinity of the maternity pen, and then transported carefully to the pen via snowmobile and skimmer. At the pen, wildlife veterinarians checked the animals and collected baseline samples and data.
The caribou will be kept in the pen from now through calving in May, until late July or August, depending on various factors including temperature in the pen.
A controlled access zone has been installed on Kuskanax Forest Service Road in the immediate vicinity of the maternity pen, starting just past the Peter Rolston trailhead. A gate and information signage were installed. The gate will be closed as necessary during critical times – for example during calving in May. 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.
Kuskanax Forest Service Road Access Plan for Organizational and Public Use
This is a working document and is subject to change.