Deborah Cichowski

Caribou Ecological Consulting
The role of protected areas in caribou management in British Columbia Description / Abstract:
Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) distribution and numbers have decreased in British Columbia (BC) since the early 1900s.  Currently, most of the caribou populations in the southern and northeastern portions of the province are declining and the status of most of the populations in the northern portion of the province is unknown.  Two-thirds of the caribou populations in BC are designated as Threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), and recent status assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) have recommended maintaining Threatened status for populations in northeastern BC, and designating populations in southeastern and east-central BC as Endangered.  Habitat alteration and linear features associated with industrial activities, which lead to changes in predator-prey dynamics, has been identified as the most important threat to caribou in the forested and mountainous regions of Canada.  Recovery strategies for Threatened car  ibou populations focus on restoring habitat and recovering populations to self-sustaining levels. In BC, the provincial protected areas system protects approximately 18% of the currently delineated caribou range in the province, and will play an important role in caribou recovery, especially in ranges where protected areas make up a larger portion of the range, or in small to moderate sized protected areas that contain highly significant caribou values.  Caribou management in each protected area in caribou ranges will depend on the significance of the protected area to caribou, and a suite of tools will be needed including habitat management and restoration, population management, recreation management and monitoring.