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.