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Kootenai Tribe of Idaho
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News Release
Contact: Kootenai Tribe of Idaho
Fish & Wildlife Department
Norm Merz, 208-267-3620,

Cooperative Caribou Research Project
To Provide Mortality Data

Joint Effort Occurs in British Columbia, Canada

A cooperative research project intended to provide insight into the reasons for increased mortality in the Southern Selkirk Mountains caribou population has been launched in British Columbia, Canada.

The British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources is conducting a radio-collaring study on behalf of a multi-partner effort of the Ministry, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program - Columbia Basin, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Southern Selkirk Mountain caribou population that occurs in Canada and the U.S. declined from 46 to 27 in 2012, and remained stable at 27 in 2013. Biologists plan to collar up to 10 caribou this year and maintain these collars for a five-year period. It is hopeful that the collaring program will help identify reasons for the recent decline in caribou from this region. The data received from the collars may also be used to inform habitat use information and potential management decisions in the Canadian and U.S. Selkirk Mountains.

A new generation of technology is being used, based on GPS satellite data collection. The new collars will provide better quality data with more frequent collection points. The collars have an increased life expectancy, which will decrease replacement needs. Most importantly, a satellite signal is e-mailed after 8 hours of animal inactivity, which will allow rapid post-mortality investigations to occur within 24 hours to better inform cause of death. Previous technology required air flights to determine mortality, which was costly and less efficient.

In addition to greatly improved mortality detection, the new collars will provide daily locations of the animals, which will document finer scale caribou movement and habitat use patterns. The research project will compare current information with that collected in the past 15 years. The collaring process is well-tested by the British Columbian government, with the successful capture and collaring of over 200 other individual caribou over the past three years with no capture-related mortalities.

The research partners are committed to this technologically-advanced approach to scientific data collection, and will work together to draw important conclusions from the study as it proceeds over time.
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