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Indigenous-led conservation and UBCO research save caribou

The West Moberly First Nations and Saulteau First Nations weave knowledge systems and tripled population
Caribou herd (Line Giguere)

B.C. First Nations are credited with saving the Klinse-Za caribou from the brink of extinction.

The West Moberly First Nations and Saulteau First Nations entered into a collaborative recovery effort with Wildlife Infometrics Inc., the government of Canada and UBCO researchers that has resulted in a tripling of the local herd.

Dr. Clayton Lamb, a researcher from UBCO, contributed research and data analysis to their restorative initiative. He told Capital News that caribou are an endangered species that have been suffering the impacts of landscape and climate change.

He said that the Indigenous peoples leading the conservation effort taught him to weave knowledge systems to produce insightful and informative stories.

Lamb said that with just western-based science and data, they would not have the traditional knowledge about past levels of caribou.

He added that elders from the Indigenous communities told him that caribou populations used to be “as abundant as bugs on the landscape.”

Hungry caribou having a snack (Line Giguere)
Hungry caribou having a snack (Line Giguere)

In 2013 the Klinse-Za caribou herd was counted at 38 caribou, a shadow of their former population, said Lamb.

As of March 2022, the herd is 114 strong after implementing predator population management and caribou maternal penning.

“This is an unprecedented conservation success,” said Lamb.

The West Moberly First Nations and Saulteau First Nations have now secured 8000 square kilometres of protected caribou habitat to ensure the future security of the species.

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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

I'm a reporter in the beginning stages of my career. I joined the team at Capital News in November 2021...
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