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March 09, 1998
Contact: Madonna Luers, (509) 456-4073
Eleven caribou released in Selkirks to boost endangered population
Eleven woodland caribou captured in north-central British Columbia were
released Sunday (March 8) in the Selkirk Mountains just north of the U.S.-Canada
border to boost the population of the endangered species.
Nine female and two male caribou, fitted with radio telemetry collars, were
released at Stagleap Pass just east of the Nelway border crossing north of Metaline
Falls in the northeast corner of Washington.
The caribou were captured, using net guns shot from helicopters, in the Prince
George area of British Columbia where they are more abundant. After health checks
and radio-collaring, the caribou were crated and trucked to the release site. The
operation was led by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, with help from
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, B.C. Ministry of Environment,
and Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
The 11 newly-transplanted caribou bring the Selkirk population to about 46
animals. It is the last population of the species left in the U.S., making woodland
caribou the most endangered large mammal in the country.
The transplant was the third in as many years conducted by WDFW. In 1996
and 1997, a total of 32 caribou were captured in Canada and released to the
Washington side of the Selkirks. Of those transplanted animals, plus eight resident
caribou radio-collared last year, 17 are still alive and being monitored. About half of the
causes of death could be determined, and among those were predation by cougars and
grizzly bears and poaching.