Land EPA: Stakeholders collaborate on solutions for caribou restoration

Caribou Conservation Breeding and Translocation Tools Workshop

A three-day workshop brought together a wide variety of stakeholders and experts to discuss caribou population management options. Attendees worked to reach a consensus on the best strategies for conserving and recovering boreal woodland caribou populations.

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Land Director Update

Jenna Dunlop, PhD

Jenna Dunlop, Ph.D, MBA
Director, Land EPA

When facing an issue as significant as declining numbers of boreal woodland caribou, the Land Environmental Priority Area (EPA) looks for possible solutions from all angles. Along with using data and information about how caribou live to pursue projects for re-establishing the species’ natural habitat, the EPA is examining options for population management and augmentation. 

“It’s a multi-lever approach,” says Jenna Dunlop, COSIA’s director of Land. “We’re applying innovative research about restoration to implement tools that will protect and restore caribou habitat. At the same time, we’re learning more about population tools, which we hope can help increase and then stabilize these animals’ numbers into the future.”

Innovative approaches are combined with traditional techniques and applied to various linear restoration efforts undertaken by COSIA and its member companies.

“The corridors that are cut into the forest to explore for and develop oil and gas sites are used by predators, and as a result more caribou are being preyed upon.” says Jenna. “Projects like Algar and LiDea are significantly restoring linear disturbances and bringing these areas back to high quality caribou habitat. We are continually looking for ways to speed up how we restore these cutlines to protect the animal.”

The time it takes for these habitat tools may be too long to help those caribou populations approaching unsustainable levels, which is why the EPA is also looking at population tools. Members of the EPA are currently assessing potential designs for a caribou enclosure fence, a longer term project that would provide a protected space for caribou to live and breed safe from predators. Members have also explored maternal penning, which would provide an area for pregnant caribou to birth and raise their yearlings safely before reintroducing them to the wild.

“We are looking at a variety of ways to increase numbers of woodland caribou,” says Jenna. “We hope these efforts, when employed alongside ways to re-establish the natural habitat, will give us the best chance to support the species.”

You can read about some of COSIA’s research to better understand caribou in our Caribou Knowledge Extension Library.