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Kelowna researcher supporting Splatsin efforts to save endangered caribou

UBCO grad won award for outstanding innovation

Splatsin’s endangered caribou population is on its way to recovery, partly thanks to a UBC Okanagan grad.

Mateen Hessami, who recently completed his Master’s degree with the Department of Biology at the university, helped create a three-day workshop in April to bring Elders of the Enderby band, community hunters and council members together with the provincial and federal government to discuss caribou recovery and moose management.

One of the results that came out of the workshop was the opportunity to apply for a grant to fund a moose hunting initiative. Managing the moose population in the area is a key component of boosting the number of caribou, as moose attract wolves, and wolves hunt caribou.

For his work, Hessami was the winner of the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation - Indigenous, which he received at a ceremony in Ottawa on Nov. 22.

“Splatsin are leaders in caribou recovery, so it’s important that their voice is heard at the table,” said Hessami. “We are partners in Splatsin’s desire to restore a culturally significant species — the caribou — but first we need to document their perspective and future vision, ensure the Splatsin community can access and learn from this information while also relaying some of this important information to decision makers.”

Hessami said that moose are so prevalent in the area because human forestry has changed the landscape.

“We discovered that there are solutions where moose hunters can be satisfied and moose can be kept at stable numbers to promote caribou recovery.”

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Jake Courtepatte

About the Author: Jake Courtepatte

Editor of Kelowna Capital News & West K News since February 2022. I have spent the majority of my career working in the Toronto area as both a sports reporter and a general reporter.
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