VICTORIA, B.C. — The provincial government is going to be deploying “maternal pens” to help recover caribou populations in the Selkirk Mountains to give the species extra protection from predators next spring.
With fewer than a dozen individuals remaining of the South Selkirk mountain caribou, the Ministry of Environment said that urgent interventions are required to give the herd a chance to survive. The pen will be located within the Darkwoods Conservation Area and will enclose about 20 acres of prime caribou habitat. Cows and possibly yearlings are expected to be relocated into the pen in the spring of 2018.
The maternal pen will be made of 4.57-metre (15-foot) high, non-woven, geotextile fabric strung between trees to act as a visual and movement barrier for caribou in the pen. Electric fencing will be installed around the exterior of the fence to prevent predators from entering the pen.
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Maternal penning represents just one aspect of a multi-pronged caribou recovery effort already ongoing for the South Selkirk Caribou population. The government said that maternal penning has helped stabilize the caribou herd near Revelstoke, and has increased the herd in the South Peace. The idea was part of a $27 million caribou recovery program announced by former Premier Christy Clark back in February.