The last known caribou in the South Selkirks has been relocated to Revelstoke, along with two others from the Purcell herd. File photo

Caribou herd disappears from Kootenays after last cow relocated

One cow from the South Selkirk herd and two from the Purcells were moved this week

Three caribou from soon-to-be extinct herds in the southern Selkirk and Purcell mountains have been relocated to Revelstoke.

Leo DeGroot, a wildlife biologist for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, said two cows and one bull caribou were captured Monday and taken to maternity pens in Revelstoke with the intention of releasing them later this year.

DeGroot said the ministry conceived the plan last August as a way of giving the animals a better chance of survival in a region with the larger Columbia North caribou herd.

“The females will contribute to a breeding population where there’s males around, so there’s an advantage to moving them to bolster another population.”

News of the relocation first spread Monday when a Facebook user posted a picture of a ministry trailer containing caribou that was parked at a gas station in Salmo.

DeGroot said a census last March found just three cows in the Selkirk herd, while the Purcell herd had three bulls and a cow. All seven were collared in April, but according to DeGroot one Selkirk cow was killed by a cougar while the other went missing because of a malfunctioning collar.

That left just one cow — the last caribou alive that ranged in both Canada and the United States — remaining in the South Selkirks.

“It’s really sad to see them go,” said DeGroot. “For me, personally as well, my last 16 years of work has been with these animals and seeing them disappear is discouraging.”

The captured caribou are being kept at the site of the Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild project, which protected pregnant cows and calves from predators until they were ready to be released. The project technically ended in 2018, but DeGroot said the site will be used temporarily by the ministry.

“The calves are protected from predators during their most vulnerable first month of life, and they also end up in better condition because they’re fed in the pen,” he said.

“They’re fed a green mix, which is more nutritious than their natural food. So they are also released from the pen in better shape [and] better body condition.”

DeGroot said the ministry has not yet decided what to do with the two remaining bulls in the Purcells. The size of the animals, he said, makes them difficult to move, and only one dominant male is needed for the breeding process.

The relocated caribou, meanwhile, could stay in their pen under observation until June.

Related:

Mountain caribou expert to speak in Nelson

Caribou maternity pen project nears its end by Revelstoke

B.C. petition to end wolf cull submitted to province

B.C. should take ‘new approach’ to protecting endangered species: report



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Small Glories grace former Vernon roost

Band grows from small beginnings to big glory

Meet Vernon Special Olympics hometown heroes

Eight athletes from Vernon will participate in the games

Vernon rolls out four days of films

2019 Spring Film Festival runs Feb. 25-28

Home loss ends Vernon Vipers’ long weekend win streak

The Vernon Vipers ended the three games in three nights weekend with two wins, one loss

Vagina Monologues help Vernon women and children escape violence

V-Day 2019 fundraiser Feb. 28 benefits Transition House

A Mother’s Wish: Ryan Shtuka’s mother wants her son to be ‘forever known’

‍‍‍‍‍“Let me tell you a story …. it all began with a boy named Ryan”

B.C. father and sons launch new trunk-sharing system, ‘Trunkit’

Smiths say peer-to-peer shipping service offers an affordable, green alternative

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Salmon Arm’s Laura Hall on bronze-winning skating squad

Hall’s team placed third in long track team pursuit at the Canada Winter Games

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

Review: Joie de Vivre a celebration of homegrown talent

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra concert featured Ernst Schneider

Bashful Balladeers bring voices to Vernon

Despite hiding behind masks, talent shines with this group

Most Read