WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

March 11, 1997
Contact: Madonna Luers, 509-456-4073

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More Canadian caribou slate for transplant to Washington state

SPOKANE -- Up to 16 additional mountain caribou will be captured in east-central British Columbia and transplanted to northeast Washington this month in a continuing effort to boost the declining international population in the Selkirk Mountains.

The transplant is the second in the current interagency plan to rebuild the caribou herds in the Selkirk Mountains of northeast Washington, northern Idaho, and southern British Columbia. Last spring, biologists from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), B.C. Ministry of Environment - Lands and Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Idaho Department of Fish and Game captured 19 caribou in the Blue River and Prince George areas of the province and released them in the far northeast corner of Washington.

Mountain caribou are the most endangered large mammal in the United States. The Selkirk population is the last one left in the country. Approximately 60 remaining caribou live in the Selkirks in two herds. One is in Idaho and the other is in southern British Columbia. The current effort is meant to establish a third herd in the Washington portion of the Selkirks to help stabilize the overall population.

The caribou will be captured in the Kamloops and Prince George regions, where caribou numbers are stable or increasing. Idaho led transplants with a total of 60 caribou moved from B.C. in the late 1980's. The current plan is for more than 60 to be moved into Washington. Nineteen of that total were transplanted last year.

As last year, the caribou will be captured in nets fired from guns mounted on a helicopter. Then they will be blindfolded and transported in sling bags to a temporary holding pen where they will be equipped with radio telemetry collars and held for 72 hours for disease testing. After health clearance, they will be crated and trucked to Washington for release in the upper Sullivan Creek drainage of the Colville National Forest in Washington's Pend Oreille County.

Of last year's 19 transplanted caribou, seven still are roaming the Selkirks and at least three new calves were born. Ten of the 19 apparently were killed by cougars or bears, although only four kills have been definitely documented. One caribou died in an apparent fall. Another was killed illegally and the poacher still is being sought.