File photo

File photo

Kootenay caribou birthing pen gets the go-ahead

“The province has decided to conditionally support the project,” says ALCS head Hugh Watt.

By: John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Arrow Lakes Caribou Society (ALCS) has been given the green light to proceed with its project to build a birthing pen for an endangered local caribou herd.

“The Province has decided to conditionally support the project,” says ALCS head Hugh Watt. “To gain full support we have a few criteria to satisfy – including completing our full project plan, First Nations consultation, and pen construction in order to get Wildlife Act permits to operate.”

The project will see about nine females taken from the near-extinct Nakusp herd of the Central Selkirk sub-population. They’ll be captured next spring, taken to the enclosure on a bench above the Nakusp hot springs, and kept safe there to give birth and raise their young.

Watt says the Province will pay for some of the construction costs, and will support the project with staff time and expertise. The provincial endorsement will also help for grant writing for the effort, which is expected to cost up to $300,000 a year to operate.

“We hope that support increases over time as we get started on the project and results can be seen,” says Watt. “I think we are developing a good working relationship with government and others.”

A crew is now working on getting the pen built before winter sets in, and Watt says it is about 75% complete. ALCS is also now applying for operational grants to pay for operating the pen starting next spring.

The first caribou will be captured in late March or early April of 2021 subject to good conditions, Watt says. They’ll give birth and will reside in the pen until mid-July, when they will be released.

From the Valley Voice

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