Deforestation and the role of predators
May 1st, 2019
Deforestation is a leading cause of habitat loss for the imperiled sub-species of woodland mountain caribou in British Columbia, which are down to an estimated 1400 animals in the world.
Mountain caribou thrive in old-growth forests where there is plenty of lichen, a food source that comprises most of their diet, and not much else in the way of vegetation for deer, elk or moose to browse and graze on. Reduced competition means fewer prey which means fewer predators in their high-altitude ranges.
However, logging has removed many critical old growth and mature forests that caribou depend on and replaces them with younger early successional forests.
"These early successional forests attract moose, deer and elk, and the mountain lions, coyotes and wolves that follow them, which incidentally prey on the caribou, as well.", says the Selkirk Conservation Alliance.
Mountain caribou calves are extremely vulnerable to predation and in some places have only a 1 in 5 survival rate to adulthood.
Before their habitat was fragmented, caribou largely avoided predation through their unique seasonal movements and by distributing themselves throughout extensive old-growth forests, but their ranges have been compromised and evidence of over predation is abundant. Predation was cited as the leading cause for the demise of the final members of the Selkirk herd in the lower 48.
Protecting the wilderness that mountain caribou depend on from forestry and resource extraction is a matter of how humans manage the priorities of wildlife over industry. Help us advocate for keeping caribou habitat wild.