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Know the West

The last woodland caribou has left the Lower 48

Canadian wildlife officials relocated the sole surviving member of the South Selkirk herd to British Columbia.


Government biologists with one of the three caribou relocated to Revelstoke.


Woodland caribou, which once roamed from Maine to Washington state, were protected as endangered in 1983. In recent years, they’ve all but vanished from the Lower 48, largely due to industrial logging. Still, the tiny South Selkirk herd hung on along Idaho and Washington’s northern border, ranging into British Columbia, where perhaps 1,000 animals remain. But wide-scale timber harvesting, unchecked recreation and climate change mean that the species continues to spiral downward (“In Canada, mountain caribou recovery effort falters,” HCN, 10/31/16).



In January, Canadian officials captured the last remaining member of the South Selkirk herd. That female and two animals from British Columbia were transported to a breeding facility in Revelstoke. The species’ long-term fate remains uncertain, as the Canadian government faces pressure to allow more logging in caribou habitat. “You know it’s sad. We’re still in mourning over the whole situation,” Bart George, a wildlife biologist for the Kalispel Tribe, told the Spokesman-Review. “The Selkirks lost some of their magic.”

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