Boreal Caribou Population Range

Content related to: Boreal Caribou Population Range

Natal Habitat Preference Induction in Large Mammals—Like Mother, Like Child?

We used complementary approaches to assess natal habitat preference induction in a marked population of woodland caribou. All approaches compared the behavior of calves in their natal range to their behavior as independent subadults, to explore whether subadults selected habitat attributes like those encountered early in life.

We found that some habitat selection tactics were highly repeatable across life stages. Notably, caribou responses to habitat disturbances were highly repeatable year‐round, meaning that different individuals reacted differently, but consistently, to disturbances. This study highlights the potential role of natal habitat preference induction in shaping individual differences in habitat selection in large mammals and provides valuable knowledge for the management and conservation of a threatened species.


Living in a Burned Landscape: Woodland Caribou use of Postfire Residual Patches for Calving in a High Fire- low Anthropogenic Boreal Shield Ecozone

Project Description:

Monitoring of calving events using 2 years of GPS data from 56 collared female caribou to identify calving site selection.

Project Outcomes or Intended Outcomes:

Providing insight into the ecological interactions of forest fires and woodland caribou in northern Saskatchewan to provide information that will support amendments to the Recovery Strategy that acknowledge the unique conditions observed on the landscape. 


Regional Industry Caribou Collaboration

Project Description:

The Regional Industry Caribou Collaboration (RICC) is a group of energy and forestry companies who support caribou recovery efforts in the Cold Lake, East Side of the Athabasca River (ESAR) and Saskatchewan boreal plains caribou ranges. The group recognizes that the success of caribou recovery requires coordination and cooperation between each member, because caribou are wide-ranging animals whose annual home ranges cross many industry leases and land-use types. RICC is a leader when it comes to supporting research to understand caribou declines and testing ways to recover populations.

Project Outcomes or Intended Outcomes:

Program Goal:
To participate in collaborative research and active, science-based adaptive management activities within the defined ESAR and Cold Lake caribou ranges.


  • Coordinate industry restoration of disturbance in priority areas;
  • Support and lead scientific research on caribou ecology and on caribou-predator-landscape relationships to identify priority issues and/or priority areas; and
  • Support and lead investigative trials on restoration methods, effectiveness and wildlife responses, to assess the effectiveness of treatments and make recommendations for broader implementation.


DetourGold – Mammals Monitoring Program

Wood was awarded a contract in 2008 to undertake baseline wildlife assessments in the study area and develop and conduct a long-term mammals monitoring program (focused on caribou, moose and wolves). The monitoring program measures wildlife responses to mine redevelopment locally as well as more regionally within the Kesagami range and informs mitigation and compensation components of provincial Species at Risk approvals. Monitoring objectives are focused on identifying important seasonal habitat areas that have the potential to be directly or indirectly impacted by the mine or any future expansion. The focus of the monitoring program is on delineating more detailed baseline information on spatio-temporal parameters of woodland caribou including annual and seasonal range use, fidelity to core use and/or seasonal ranges that may directly inform impact assessments as well as compensation and mitigation strategies to be implemented. A road network habitat restoration project is in the initial consultation/planning phase. Caribou monitoring methods undertaken at the range scale include satellite telemetry (n=20 collars and mortality investigations), systematic aerial surveys of ungulate-wolf occurrence and caribou herd composition. The caribou surveys include group classification (age, sex) and calf recruitment to support population modelling of state and vital rates.


Motorized Human Use of Legacy Seismic Lines

Off-Highway vehicles are widely used on these seismic lines and can hamper vegetative re-growth because of ongoing physical damage and compaction. Understanding where motorized activity may be impeding regeneration of seismic lines will help to prioritize restoration. To target restoration efforts, our objective was to use field and GIS data to determine factors that best explained levels of motorized ATV use on seismic lines. The study was focused within the ranges of two boreal caribou herds (Little Smoky, Chinchaga), and three central mountain caribou herds (A La Peche, Redrock Prairie Creek, Narraway).

  • ATV use was driven by local topography and vegetation attributes of seismic lines that facilitated ease-of-travel.
  • In the northern boreal landscape (Chinchaga), ATV use was most common in dry areas with a large industrial footprint.
  • In highly disturbed areas of the foothills (Little Smoky, A La Peche), ATV use increased in areas with low vegetation heights, dryer soils, and closer to forest harvest, while in less disturbed areas of the foothills (Redrock Prairie Creek, Narraway), motorized activity decreased with seismic line density, slope, and white-tailed deer abundance, and increased with distance to roads.
  • We generated predictive maps of motorized activity identifying 21,777 km of seismic lines where active restoration could expedite regeneration

Population and Habitat Ecology of Boreal Caribou and their Predators in the Saskatchewan Boreal Shield

Research completed by the University of Saskatchewan in collaboration with a consortium of industry and government partners. Research included a multi-faceted program on the population dynamics and critical habitat of woodland (boreal) caribou in the SK1 administrative unit.

The program was designed to address information gaps about caribou habitat and population dynamics closely aligned with information required by Environment and Climate Change Canada as part of the 2012 federal Recovery Strategy.

Bipole III Transmission Project – Mammals Monitoring Program

The Bipole III Transmission Project is a 1,388 km high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission project traversing several ecozones.  The project starts at the Keewatinohk converter station near Gillam in northern Manitoba and ends at the Riel Converter Station in the RM of Springfield. On behalf of Manitoba Hydro, Wood Canada Ltd. developed and implemented a long-term Mammals Monitoring Program compliant with the project license conditions and approved Biophysical Monitoring Plan to monitor project effects during the construction (Jan 2015-June 2018) and early operation (July 2018-ongoing) phases.  Monitored mammal VECs include Woodland Caribou, Moose, Coastal and Barren-ground Caribou, White-tailed Deer, Elk, Gray Wolf, Black Bear, and Furbearer species.  The multi-year study design involves systematic monitoring conducted at multiple spatial and temporal scales and integration of rigorous systematic sampling methods using combinations of non-invasive genetic sampling/ genotyping, aerial surveys, satellite telemetry, trail camera studies, winter ground tracking, and harvest monitoring, depending on mammal VEC.  Caribou monitoring methods undertaken at the range scale include satellite telemetry in 4 woodland caribou local population ranges (n=20 collars/range and mortality investigations), systematic aerial surveys of ungulate-wolf occurrence and caribou herd composition.  Non-invasive genetic sampling (NGS) methods integrated with capture-recapture (CR) estimation and population modelling of state and vital rates for the 4 boreal caribou populations.