Scientists assess paths toward maintaining BC caribou until habitat recovers

by David Bidwell, University of British Columbia
April 19, 2024

Thanks to drastic and evidence-based solutions, more southern mountain caribou roam Western Canada today than in previous decades; however, herd numbers are too fragile to sustain themselves without continued intervention.

That begins the conclusion of a new research paper published in Ecological Applications on Thursday by a team of wildlife and biodiversity researchers led by Dr. Clayton Lamb, a postdoctoral fellow at UBC Okanagan and Wildlife Scientist at Biodiversity Pathways.

“We did this analysis with full understanding and agreement that habitat loss is the primary driver of caribou declines,” says Dr. Lamb. “But the reality is that habitat restoration, even once complete, will take decades to produce the mature forests and low predator densities caribou need to survive. In the meantime, we need evidence-based actions to sustain caribou while we expedite habitat conservation and restoration.”

Researchers found that while caribou have declined dramatically over the past few decades, there are 52 per cent (or less than 1,500) more caribou on the landscape than if no recovery actions had been taken.

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