Critical habitat information
Jan. 31, 2013
Woodland caribou once roamed across many of the Lower 48 states,
but their numbers were decimated by habitat loss, poaching, motor vehicle
accidents and harassment by snowmobilers. Now, a small population along the
Washington/Idaho border has been hit hard by two recent decisions of the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service. First, the agency decided to only designated a
little over 30,000 acres for critical habitat - about 5% of their necessary
recovery area and far less than the 375,000 acres they proposed in November
Next, the agency has caved into a petition from the Pacific
Legal Foundation and its clients, Bonner County in Idaho and the Idaho State
Snowmobile Association and a new study to determine if the woodland caribou
found in Idaho and Washington should continue to be protected as an endangered
The woodland caribou, also known as mountain caribou, are a
distinct population that are very different from caribou in northern Canada and
Alaska, and were deemed endangered in 1984. It is undisputed that woodland
caribou are struggling to survive in the U.S. Only four were tallied in northern
Idaho and eastern Washington during an aerial census last winter, although the
U.S. population is estimated to total several dozen animals. They are found
only in the wildest part of the Selkirk Mountains, where road building and
logging has not occurred. The agency has twice before considered delisting
caribou and rejected the idea both times - hopefully that common sense will
prevail this time.
We think the Endangered Species Act should be enforced and that
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should spend their time improving their
recovery efforts, not cater to the special interests of a few individuals. We
support an economic recovery for the Priest Lake area, which can include
snowmobiling in some areas, but we also support quiet recreation and better
protection of habitat for caribou, grizzly, lynx, wolverine and other rare
species that make our region so special.
May 31 Spokesman Review article on Caribou habitat cost analysis.
Click here to learn more about the biology and history of this extraordinary, but highly endangered, species, the Woodland Caribou.
Contact Mike Petersen at 509-209-2406 or mpetersen (at) landscouncil.org for more