Response Statement - Caribou, Southern Mountain population

January 13, 2015

Common Name: Caribou, Southern Mountain population
Scientific Name: Rangifer tarandus

Status assessment by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Endangered

How the Minister of the Environment intends to respond to the assessment: The Minister of Environment will undertake consultations with the government of British Columbia, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders, and the public on whether or not the Caribou, Southern Mountain population, should have its Schedule 1 status of Threatened changed to Endangered on the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (Schedule 1) under the Species at Risk Act. The Minister of the Environment will forward the COSEWIC assessment of the Caribou, Southern Mountain population, to the GIC upon completion of consultations.

Reason(s) for status designation provided by COSEWIC: This population is largely restricted to Canada, except for < 40 animals in Idaho and Washington. It occurs in 15 extant subpopulations in southeastern British Columbia. Two subpopulations have been extirpated since 2002. The current estimate for the population is 1,356 mature individuals, which has declined by at least 45% in the past three generations, and 27% since the last assessment in 2002. All but two extant subpopulations are estimated to contain fewer than 250 mature individuals, with 9 of these having fewer than 50, and 6 with fewer than 15 mature individuals. Dispersal within the ranges of 11 subpopulations is severely limited. Surveys have shown consistently high adult mortality and low calf recruitment, accelerating decline rates. Threats are continuing and escalating.

Occurrence: British Columbia

Competent Minister(s):
Minister of Environment
Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency

Province(s) and territory (territories) to be consulted:
British Columbia

Other applicable legislation:  When the species is found within national parks of Canada or other lands administered by the Parks Canada Agency, it is protected or managed under the Canada National Parks Act or through measures or management tools available to the Parks Canada Agency under other legislation.

Conservation activities underway: Following the Designatable Unit report on caribou (COSEWIC 2011), a new population structure was proposed and accepted by COSEWIC. This resulted in the new Southern Mountain population, composed of 17 subpopulations from the former Southern Mountain population (COSEWIC 2002). The remaining subpopulations were assigned to the new Central and Northern Mountain populations. Under the previous population designatable units, the Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain population (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in Canada has been posted as final on the Species at Risk Public Registry.