Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Lawsuit Filed Over North Idaho Habitat of Woodland Caribou

Posted By on Wed, Oct 2, 2013 at 10:05 AM

The most recent survey, conducted between Jan. 12 and April 2, 2012, found only 27 woodland caribou were discovered in the southern Selkirks.
  • Steve Forrest
  • The most recent survey, conducted between Jan. 12 and April 2, 2012, found only 27 woodland caribou were discovered in the southern Selkirks.

In December 2012, Boise Weekly told you about the scant numbers of woodland caribou, often referred to as North America's reindeer, and their home along the U.S.-Canada border in Idaho, Washington and the Canadian province of Alberta.

According to a 2010 aerial census conducted by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, only 43 of the animals were found in the southern Selkirks, a habitat including hundreds of square miles of rugged backcountry. A 2011 census counted only 36 caribou and the most recent survey, conducted in 2012, found only 27 animals. Four were found in the U.S.

On Oct. 1, environmental advocates filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Boise, arguing that federal budget cuts put the wildlife at greater risk.

"The reduction in protected habitat is a death sentence for mountain caribou," Noah Greenwald, spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity told the Associated Press. "They will not survive in the United States if we don't protect their habitat."

The lawsuit accuses federal officials of bending to political pressure when they slashed protected caribou habitat from 375,000 acres to approximately 30,000 acres.

"Reducing the amount of protected areas by more than 90 percent is clearly a step in the work direction that goes against the best available science," Jason Rylander, attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, told the AP

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