Rare caribou spotted in Northwest Montana

Print Article

A woodland caribou makes its way through the snow. File photo courtesy Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Residents have recently documented sightings of woodland caribou near the U.S.-Canada border. The multiple sightings include the potential for a bull and a cow in separate locations, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Dillon Tabish said Monday.

The caribou is a rare creature in the Lower 48, so a sighting is quite rare.

Caribou, members of the deer family, are native to northwest Montana but have almost completely disappeared from the contiguous United States over the last half century.

Woodland caribou herds once stretched from central British Columbia to Idaho, Montana and Washington. The decline in population is largely attributed to high mortality linked to habitat fragmentation, alteration, loss of old growth forest, and subsequent predation impacts. Woodland caribou are now protected in the United States and British Columbia, though British Columbia recently announced that, after decades of trying to re-establish herds along the border, would stop the program and move what animals it has left farther north.

Six years ago, 19 of the beasts were released in the Purcell Mountains along the border.

In winter, woodland caribou need two things more than all else: deep snow and arboreal (tree) lichen. The snow keeps predators at bay. The lichen, named old man’s beard for the way it hangs from the moist subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce trees of the Inland Northwest, is for eating, according to a story by Daniel Person in the 2013 edition of Montana Outdoors.

Caribou have been known to roam from the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges in southern British Columbia into Montana, Idaho and Washington but the occurrences have become increasingly rare. They’ve also been historically known in Glacier National Park, ranging as far south as Logan Pass in the early 1920s, but park biologist John Waller said the creatures haven’t been noted in the Park since 2011, when tracks were seen near Kintla Lake.

Caribou are similar in size to mule deer but have different coloration, large round hooves and unique antlers. Even cow caribou can have visible small antlers.

“There are three weeks left of big-game hunting season in Montana. Hunters are reminded to be sure of their target and beyond,” said Neil Anderson, FWP Region 1 wildlife manager.

After confirming reports of the recent sightings, Montana FWP contacted wildlife biologists in British Columbia and informed them of the sightings. FWP will continue to work closely with partners in British Columbia on the conservation of the species.

Print Article

Read More Breaking News

Feds charge woman with murder for hire

April 19, 2019 at 3:01 pm | Hungry Horse News A Kalispell woman has been charged with murder for hire, though most of the case against her has been sealed from public view. Judith Johanna Cossette, 66, allegedly “knowingly used and caused anoth...

Comments

Read More

In Glacier Park, plows begin the long job of clearing roads of snow

March 27, 2019 at 6:53 am | Hungry Horse News Glacier National Park’s annual rite of spring gets underway this week and next — the clearing of its roads of winter snows. Crews have already started on the east side — they were clearing the Chief...

Comments

Read More

Arizona man recovered from Glacier Park’s Lake McDonald; identity released

March 26, 2019 at 7:29 pm | Hungry Horse News A 48-year-old man from Arizona was recovered from Lake McDonald March 26, Glacier National Park officials said. He was later identified as Wei Liu of Tempe. Liu died from hypothermia after falling i...

Comments

Read More

Man pleads not guilty to Coram homicide

March 14, 2019 at 3:26 pm | Hungry Horse News During his arraignment Thursday morning, Martin J. Chandler pleaded not guilty to charges of felony deliberate homicide and felony use of a firearm following a Feb. 14 shooting in Coram that left ano...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 892-2151
PO BOX 189, 926 Nucleus Avenue
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

©2019 Hungry Horse News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X