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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.