Nature Trust buys property to protect caribou

The Nature Trust of British Columbia has purchased privately-owned land near Mackenzie in the name of protecting a herd of woodland caribou.

From October to January, the herd of about 50 animals typically congregates on the 245-hectare Kennedy Siding property, southeast of the community 186 kilometres north of Prince George, where they feed on their main food source, terrestrial lichens, until the snow gets too deep.

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From there, they move into forested portions of their winter range, where the snow is lighter.

The property is completely surrounded by Crown land designated as ungulate winter range, adding up to about 2,900 hectares.

"Based on monitoring of radio-collared caribou, we know that about 20 per cent of the low elevation winter range use of Kennedy Siding caribou occurs on the property," Dr. Dale Seip, a wildlife ecologist at the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy said in a statement issued Wednesday.

"Acquisition of this land, in combination with the surrounding provincial ungulate winter range, now ensures that the entire low elevation winter range of this Threatened caribou herd will be protected and managed as caribou habitat."

Moose, elk, mule deer, black bear, grey wolf, and grizzly bear have all been confirmed in the immediate area of the Kennedy Siding property. Woodland caribou are listed as a threatened species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

"We are proud to add the Kennedy Siding property to the more than 71,000 hectares of vulnerable habitat we protect and care for across this province," Nature Trust of BC CEO Jasper Lament said in the statement.

"It is a win for this population of threatened caribou in B.C. and an example of what is possible when conservation partners work together."

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