At least six mountain caribou calves were just born in the Selkirk Mountains of
northeast Washington, southern British Columbia and northern Idaho.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officials also just found
the carcasses of two caribou bulls. Grizzly bears may have killed them.
Biologists estimate there may be only 50 of the endangered animals remaining in
the Selkirks population.
In other developments, three men charged with poaching a caribou late last year
pleaded guilty this week in Spokane federal district court.
In April three men were indicted in the caribou poaching case. After motions to
dismiss were rejected in this week's pre-trial hearing, Narron Drury, 28, of Colville,
pleaded guilty to violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act regarding
illegal transport of poached wildlife. James Sgueglia ("squill-I-a"), 31, and Larry Krotzer,
42, both of Colville, also pleaded guilty to Lacey Act violations.
The Endangered Species Act violation carries a maximum penalty of up to one
year in jail and/or a fine of up to $100,000. The Lacey Act violation carries a maximum
penalty of up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $100,000. Sentencing for Drury is
set for Aug. 26 and sentencing for Sgueglia and Krotzer is set for Sept. 9.
Mountain caribou are the most endangered large mammal in the U.S. The
Selkirk population is the only one left in the country. An interagency effort to recover
the species has been under way for over ten years. Canadian caribou have been
transplanted to Idaho and Washington.
This year 13 caribou were captured in north-central British Columbia. Radio
telemetry equipment was placed on them and they were released in northeast
Washington. Last year 19 caribou were transplanted. By the end of the year, 12 of the
19 died; two were killed by cougars and two by bears, one died in a fall, six died from
unknown causes, and one was killed illegally.
Jon Almack, WDFW caribou research biologist, reported that the six new calves
he's seen while monitoring the caribou by radio from the air are from four cows
transplanted this spring and two resident cows radio-equipped earlier this year. Almack
said that at least five more calves already may be born, since he saw at least three
1996-transplanted cows and two 1997-transplanted cows in high, isolated terrain where
calving usually occurs.
Almack said one of the two dead caribou bulls discovered June 14 was from the
1996 transplant and the other was a resident animal recently fitted with a radio. Radio
signal changes brought Almack to the bull carcasses, which were only 30 feet apart in
an area about 15 miles north of the Washington border and 10 miles east of the town of
Salmo, B.C. From signs at the scene, Almack suspects at least one grizzly bear was
Almack said the revised estimate of the Selkirks' caribou population is based on
recent surveys conducted by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.