Bulkley Valley Research Centre - Science in the Public Interest

Year 1 - Effects of a MPB Epidemic on Northern Caribou Habitat Use, Migration and Population Status

Project Reference Number: 2006-10

Project Status: Complete

Led by: Deborah Cichowski, Caribou Ecological Consulting, Smithers

Funder: Forest Investment Account - Forest Science Program

The Tweedsmuir-Entiako caribou population summers in the North Tweedsmuir Park area, moves through the East Ootsa area during spring and fall migration, and winters in the Entiako and East Ootsa areas. During winter, caribou select mature lodgepole pine forests on low productivity sites where terrestrial lichens are abundant, and forage primarily by cratering through the snow to obtain terrestrial lichens (Cichowski 1993). The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has recently listed all caribou in the Southern Mountains National Ecological Area (SMNEA), which includes the Tweedsmuir-Entiako population, as Threatened. As a signatory to the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, B.C. is obligated to develop a recovery strategy that addresses the threats to the species and its habitat. One of the greatest threats currently facing the Tweedsmuir-Entiako caribou population is the impact of the extensive mountain pine beetle outbreak on winter forage (terrestrial lichens), on caribou habitat and winter range use, and on population dynamics. Information collected in this study will aid in identifying forest stands on other caribou winter ranges that will be important caribou winter range following epidemic mountain pine beetle levels and therefore will aid in directing mountain pine beetle management and salvage efforts to minimize impacts on this species at risk.

This specific project is part of a larger study.  The objectives of the study are:


  • to assess the effects of the current mountain pine beetle epidemic during the “grey-attack” phase on Tweedsmuir-Entiako caribou migration, landscape level habitat use, stand level habitat use and forage site selection using radio-collared caribou and snow tracking;
  • to use information collected during this study to develop a management strategy specific to the Tweedsmuir-Entiako caribou population in a post-beetle landscape, and to develop a general management strategy for other caribou populations experiencing mountain pine beetle outbreaks; and,
  • to communicate information collected during this study to wildlife managers and others in a readily accessible format.

The objectives for the 2006/07 Forest Sciences Program funding portion of the project are:


  • to conduct monthly (12) radio-telemetry flights to locate radio-collared caribou; and,
  • to purchase 1 GPS radio-collar.

Related Reports

Publication Date Report Title Authors
April 2010 Effects of a Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemic on Northern Caribou Habitat Use - Final Report Deborah Cichowski, Caribou Ecological Consulting
2008 Seminar Abstract - Effects of a MPB Epidemic on Woodland Caribou Winter Habitat Use in West-Central British Columbia Deborah Cichowski