In Search of a Critical Habitat Concept for Woodland Caribou, Boreal Population

Gerald Racey
Alan Aresnault
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A hierarchical approach to critical habitat identification has been proposed in the draft National Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), Boreal Population. This approach proposes that critical habitat for boreal caribou be identified as equivalent with caribou ranges and their composite range components, and that it be consistent with the biological needs of a wild, self-sustaining local population of woodland caribou. These components include seasonal ranges, high use areas and calving sites, each of which provide for important ecological functions and are subject to specific risks from human development activities. Protection of critical habitat is accomplished through management of the amount and type of human developments and potential natural disturbances, not by prohibiting all activity. This approach to critical habitat sets the stage for management and monitoring of habitat at spatial and temporal scales appropriate for conservation of a wide ranging species such as woodland caribou.