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The last caribou known to inhabit the contiguous United States has been removed from the wild. This week, a team of biologists working for the Canadian province of British Columbia captured the caribou—a female—in the Selkirk Mountains just north of the U.S.-Canada border. They then moved it to a captive rearing pen near Revelstoke as part of a controversial, last-ditch effort to preserve highly endangered herds. The female caribou is believed to be the last member of the last herd to regularly cross into the lower 48 states from Canada.
The 14 January capture of the caribou was “like losing a piece of the tribe in some way,” says Bart George, a wildlife biologist for the Kalispel tribe in Usk, Washington. It is one of two indigenous nations in the United States that have been pushing governments to maintain the cross-border caribou herd and protect its habitat.
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Battles - Recovery - Decades - George - Conservationists
Battles over mountain caribou recovery have spanned decades. George, along with many conservationists, believes officials in British Columbia are looking for a way out of having to protect dwindling southern populations. Province officials dispute that idea. But critics note they have failed to develop management strategies for some southern herds, despite direction from the Canadian government calling for their restoration under the federal Species at Risk Act.
Conservationists also fear removing caribou from the wild will ultimately lead to the lifting of protections for its habitat, especially if the animals never return. Both British Columbia and the United States have...
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