Mountain Caribou

America’s Most Endangered Mammal

Mountain caribou are the most endangered mammal in the country. At last count, only 12 caribou remain in the Selkirk Mountains between Sandpoint, ID, and Nelson, BC. We’re on the brink of losing this herd forever.

Protecting Caribou Habitat

Emergency efforts are underway to save the herd from disappearing altogether. The Kootenai and Kalispell Tribes are constructing a maternal pen where pregnant females and calves will be held until the calves reach an age where they can successfully defend themselves in the wild. During the summer of 2018, ICL will recruit volunteers to aid in the collection of arboreal lichens that will be used to feed caribou during penning.

Caribou Recovery Plan

Meanwhile, the Kootenai Tribe is also leading a collaborative effort to update the recovery plan for mountain caribou. The current plan was written in the 1990s and is no longer valid. ICL is tracking this process and will be involved in the development of the plan.

In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a measure to protect 375,000 acres of caribou habitat in Idaho and Washington—but then scaled back to a mere 30,000 acres in the final plan. ICL and a coalition of other conservation groups successfully challenged the decision in court. In the near future, the Service will issue a new decision about the protection of caribou habitat. ICL will evaluate the final plan when it is published to determine if it adequately protects caribou and their habitat.