Caribou Herd Dwindling

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is taking matters into their own hands literally when it comes to saving their Lake Superior woodland caribou. The caribou population on two islands in Lake Superior has been nearly decimated since the arrival of wolves via an ice bridge formed in 2014.

The Slate Islands and Michipicoten Island had large populations of caribou as recently as 2014. Caribou thrived and herds were said to have numbered in the 600’s and 400’s respectively but are now down to less than 100. According to recent articles scientists fear there will be no caribou left by the end of the winter if something isn’t done quickly.

Photo by Layne Kennedy

Unlike moose, caribou are unable to fight off wolves even when they are healthy. On the islands there is no place safe for the caribou to outrun and escape the wolves.  The only way to save the population is to move them to an island that does not have a wolf population.

They plan to move the animals back to the Slate Islands. The wolf

population there has most likely died off completely due to the lack of food/caribou to sustain the packs.

It’s quite interesting to read about the history of the Lake Superior woodland caribou. It isn’t the first time humans have intervened with the caribou. Some Slate Island caribou were transported to Michipicoten Island in the 1980’s. While most likely none of the caribou transported from Slate to Michipicoten are still alive no doubt their offspring may find their way “home” courtesy of a helicopter ride.

Read another article about the Slate Island caribou by Gus Axelson.

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