Bulkley Valley Research Centre - Science in the Public Interest

Year 3 - Effects of a MPB Epidemic on Northern Caribou Habitat Use, Migration and Population Status

Project Reference Number: 2008-15

Project Status: Complete

Led by: Deborah Cichowski, Caribou Ecological Consulting, Smithers

Funder: Forest Investment Account - Forest Science Program

Project Proposal

The Tweedsmuir-Entiako caribou population, federally listed as Threatened, is the first Northern Caribou population to experience the recent mountain pine beetle epidemic. During winter, caribou select mature lodgepole pine forests where terrestrial lichens are abundant, and forage primarily by cratering through the snow to obtain terrestrial lichens. By 2007, most mature lodgepole pine stands in the Tweedsmuir-Entiako caribou winter range have been attacked by mountain pine beetles and are in the “grey attack” phase of the epidemic. The loss of needles in the canopy could affect snow conditions and consequently caribou movements, habitat use and foraging behaviour during winter. The focus of this project is to assess the impacts of the mountain pine beetle epidemic on Northern Caribou habitat use during the grey attack phase of the epidemic using radio-collared caribou and winter ground investigations of foraging behaviour. Information from this project will be used to develop forest management strategies for caribou ranges that are experiencing MPB epidemics, and for recovery planning for Northern Caribou in BC. This year, 2008/09, will be the third year and final year of data collection.

Current Year Objectives:

  • To assess Tweedsmuir-Entiako caribou habitat use and migration during the grey attack phase of the mountain pine beetle epidemic using a sample of radio-collared caribou.
  • To conduct monthly radio-telemetry flights, winter site investigations, mortality investigations and calf survival surveys and compare them to similar data collected prior to mountain pine beetle attack

Current Year Objectives – FSP funding:

  • To support a portion of the project biologist fees.
  • To conduct 11 monthly radio-telemetry flights.

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