Last caribou in lower 48 states have been pushed to “virtual extinction”

Last caribou in lower 48 states have been pushed to “virtual extinction”

We have a jeer for the logging industry. It has knowingly decimated critical habitat for the South Selkirk Mountain caribou herd, which can be found in the snowy old-growth forests of Idaho, and extreme northeast Washington, and who spend most of their time in southern Canada.

Conservationists are devastated by news that a recent census of the endangered herd found that only three females remain, down from 11 animals last year, and are calling it a wake-up call to Canada and British Columbia.

Friends of Animals is adamant it should be a wake-up call to our own federal government, which also caters to the logging industry. For example, FoA is involved in ongoing litigation against the federal government and the logging industry to protect barred owls in California and Oregon. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service blames barred owls for the population declines of the smaller, northern spotted owl; however it ignores obvious factors such as the logging industry shrinking the size of suitable owl habitat. 

For the South Selkirk Mountain caribou, logging robbed the caribou of an important food source—lichen—and the construction of service roads provided easier access to caribou for predators. Making matters worse is oil development, mining and recreational activities like heli-skiing and snowmobiling, which disturb the herd’s feeding habits.

“We’ve really jeopardized their habitat over the last 30 to 40 years through unsustainable rates of logging,” Mark Hebblewhite, a Canadian wildlife biologist at the University of Montana, told the Guardian. “It’s all about habitat. You can do everything you want; you can kill wolves, you can kill invasive predators, you can kill species like moose … but without habitat what you’re doing is just buying time.

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