In 1998, four years before Wildlife Infometrics was incorporated, we initiated what has now become a long history of studies focused on woodland caribou populations in north-central BC. The information gathered by Wildlife Infometrics staff, and our partner First Nations, helps us learn about, and understand, basic ecology of the herds including: population sizes and demography, migration and other movement patterns, calf production and survival rates, and timing and causes of mortality. This new information and understanding is then used in collaboration with provincial government biologists to develop population recovery strategies, conservation measures for the herds, and other management initiatives.
These studies are typically based on remote collection of animal location data. We capture adult caribou and deploy special collars equipped with Global Positioning System devices. The collared animals are then used directly as study samples and as an aid in locating the rest of the herd members. The herds in BC that we have studied include the Takla, Wolverine, Scott, Klinse-Za (formally; Moberly), Chase, Thutade (a relatively new herd), Finlay, and Liard.
The First Nations partnerships on these studies have provided a vast array of opportunities to include community members in project design, field-level sampling, and out-reach activities. Aboriginal people have genuine concern about the status of caribou herds in north-central BC and this has led us to partner with First Nation communities on more recent projects. One of those projects aims to avert extirpation of the Klinse-Za herd. Another study that we recently initiated will help investigate possible population implications of recent, increased habitat disturbance in the Chase herd range.
Funding for these projects comes from a diverse range of sources, including the BC provincial government, the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, federal funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada, First Nations band funds, and industry sponsorship. Funding also comes from the Peace Region Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program on behalf of its program partners BC Hydro, the Province of BC, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, First Nations and Public Stakeholders who work together to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife impacted by existing BC Hydro dams.