Translocation and Recovery Efforts for the Telkwa Caribou, Rangifer tarandus caribou, Herd in Westcentral British Columbia, 1997-2005
Keywords:Woodland Caribou, Rangifer tarandus caribou, calf mortality, calving habitat, habitat selection, rank analysis, wildlife management, British Columbia
AbstractDuring 1997–1999, 32 Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) were translocated from the Sustut Herd to the Telkwa Mountains in westcentral British Columbia to augment recovery of the Telkwa Caribou Herd. The animals were fitted with radiocollars and located during 1997–2000 to determine selection of habitat features and terrain variables. Six Caribou calves were also collared to determine causes and timing of calf mortality during summer 1999. Defining available habitat for newly translocated animals is often arbitrary and subjective, and we based the analyses on ranks for habitat use and availability as this is less sensitive to the inclusion or exclusion of a questionable resource. This method represents some loss of information but provides indications of the relative importance of various habitat types without classifying any as avoided. High elevation habitat (> 1700 masl) on moderate slopes (16 – 45°) received the highest ranks, as did “warm” (136 – 315°) aspects and forests > 250 years old. Three calves died shortly after birth. One calf appeared to have been killed by predation, likely by a Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), and one calf was abandoned by the cow. Cause of death for the third calf is unknown. To assess habitat use associated with calving we compared summer locations with data obtained throughout the rest of 1999 for eight cows with calves and eight without calves. We found significant difference in use of elevation during calving time, when cows with calves remained at high elevations and barren cows generally descended to lower elevation habitat. Surveys conducted in 2005, five years after the completion of the initial study, produced a count of approximately 90 Caribou. This suggests that in the short term, the translocation was successful in re-establishing a self-sustaining Caribou population in the Telkwa Mountains.
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