Woodland Caribou Research

caribou peeking

Photo courtesy of Dr. Perry Barboza, UAF

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Concerns have been raised by stakeholders regarding the interrelationships of Canadian forest management and caribou. These concerns are rooted in the recognition that five populations of forest-dwelling caribou are listed under the Canadian Species at Risk Act, with some herds in these populations experiencing range retraction and population declines. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) lists forest-dwelling woodland caribou Rangifer tarandus caribou as a threatened species. 

Research to date suggests that caribou range has receded across the boreal forest due to habitat loss and fragmentation, human disturbance, and increased predation. Although predation is generally considered the most important proximal factor limiting caribou populations, factors that negatively affect an animal’s ability to obtain adequate food of suitable quality, avoid predation, and reproduce may be cumulative in their effects on individual fitness and population dynamics.

Given the reliance of listed caribou populations on forested areas in Canada, the forest industry has been increasingly engaged in research and on-the-ground management to mitigate the potential influence of forest harvesting on caribou. Therefore, managers attempting to conserve populations of woodland caribou while allowing sustainable resource development need to have an understanding of the current scientific knowledge on caribou, and to be aware of ongoing research.

To support members who manage lands or source fiber from caribou habitat, NCASI has prepared detailed documentation about caribou ecology, recent literature, and our caribou research program.