An Exploration of Conservation Breeding and Translocation Tools to Improve the Conservation Status of Boreal Caribou Populations in Western Canada

Hayek, T., Stanley Price, M.R., Ewen, J.G., Lloyd, N., Saxena, A., Moehrenschlager, A.


In the face of declining population trends in western Canada, there is an urgent need to consider interventionist approaches to assist caribou population recovery until landscapes are returned to conditions more suitable for caribou through habitat restoration. In this context, population-based management tools potentially play an important role in population recovery, but there are many options available and factors to consider. To this end, the IUCN facilitated a multi-stakeholder workshop on conservation breeding options for boreal caribou. The workshop was attended by a diverse group of stakeholders, including governments, industry, academia, ENGOs, Indigenous peoples, zoos, and independent consultants. Two IUCN facilitators led participants through a collaborative structured decision-making process that IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Reintroduction Specialist Group experts have successfully applied to other species conservation issues around the world. Population based management tools considered in this workshop included maternal penning, captive breeding and release, wild-to-wild translocation, and predator exclosure fencing. Over the course of three days, workshop participants (first individually and then in stakeholder groups) defined and weighted their own values and objectives, expected outcomes and alternative strategies. At the workshop’s conclusion, sets of limitations and benefits of each tool were identified, and predator exclosure fencing was deemed to best meet most stakeholders’ objectives. The results of this workshop will provide guidance to regulatory agencies in determining which strategies to advance depending on the objectives they value most. This presentation will provide insight into the diverse set of objectives valued by different stakeholders interested in boreal caribou recovery in western Canada.