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Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

New technology will help protect caribou herd

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Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

New technology will help protect caribou herd

Media Contacts
Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
Media Relations
250 356-7506
Media Contacts
Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
Media Relations
250 356-7506

Backgrounders

How the new system works
  • Under the Wildlife Act (Motor Vehicle Prohibition Regulation), all caribou habitat within the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area is closed to snowmobiling year-round. This is the same sort of legal mechanism used to implement most snowmobile closures in the province. However, there is an important difference in the case of the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area.
  • In 2017, some caribou belonging to the Central Selkirk caribou herd were fitted with GPS collars, which continually transmit data about the animals’ movements to provincial biologists. The caribou in this particular herd tend to stay together as they roam the landscape, so it’s possible to determine the location of most of the herd by tracking just a few collared animals within it.
  • The key to the new system is the ability of provincial biologists to monitor GPS tracking data on a daily basis and share that information online: https://snowmobileselkirks.ca
  • As a result, limited access to the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area may be granted through exemption permits to members of two local recreational clubs (the Trout Lake Recreational Club and the Arrow Lakes Ridge Riders). The portions of the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area that remain closed to snowmobilers is determined in part by the herd’s last reported position.
  • A snowmobile operator who wants to ride in the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area but is not a member of the Trout Lake Recreational Club or the Arrow Lakes Ridge Riders can apply to join one of these clubs on the website for an annual fee: https://snowmobileselkirks.ca
  • Under the clubs’ exemption permit, members can enter currently open areas of the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area. A condition of the exemption permit is that club members must log onto the website before entering the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area and confirm that they have viewed a map showing which portion(s) of the management area are closed to snowmobiling. This map, available to club members, is updated daily at 3:30 a.m. (Pacific time). See the map here: https://snowmobileselkirks.ca
  • Club members need to carry their club membership card (showing their name and membership number) and photo identification to enter areas of the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area that are open for snowmobile use that day.
More facts about Central Selkirk caribou
  • The population of the Central Selkirk herd has declined significantly over the past two decades. In 1997, provincial biologists counted 227 animals. In 2019, they counted 25 animals, a decline of 89%.
  • Through the Provincial Caribou Recovery Program, the B.C. government has committed $47 million over five years to support the recovery of this species, using a comprehensive, science-based approach to address concerns and recover caribou herds in B.C.
  • These initiatives include:
    • herd planning;
    • habitat management, protection and restoration;
    • maternity penning programs;
    • supplemental feeding program;
    • animal relocations;
    • predator management and other measures.
  • Habitat loss and predation (e.g., by wolves) are having an effect on caribou populations, but winter recreational activities also pose potential threats to these animals.
  • Scientific research indicates that disturbance from snowmobiling activities can result in chronic stress for the herd, affect calf survival rates and displace the caribou from their preferred habitat.

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