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HB 166: Domesticated Reindeer – 2021

Summary: HB 166 would allow for Reindeer farms in North Idaho, which could threaten Woodland Caribou.

ICL's position: Oppose

Current Bill Status: Senate Floor

Issue Areas: Caribou, Fish and Wildlife, Idaho State Department of Agriculture

Official Legislative Site

Rep. Sage Dixon (R-Ponderay) introduced a bill that would allow reindeer farms north of the Salmon River, which is currently prohibited under both statute and administrative rule because of the potential to transmit diseases to wild deer, elk, and caribou.

Historically, reindeer, also known as woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus), were common in northern Idaho and ventured as far south as the Clearwater River. Only a small herd of caribou remains in the Selkirk Mountains that straddles the Canadian border. This small population was placed on the Endangered Species List in 1984 after a determination that their survival was threatened by unregulated hunting and logging, predation, as well as an increasing number of people in their habitat area.

Idaho’s Selkirk Mountains were the last remaining home for mountain caribou in the lower-48, until they sadly went extinct in 2019. The last two remaining members of this herd were transported to a holding pen in British Columbia for future potential reintroduction efforts. Last month, a single caribou reportedly wandered up to the USA-Canada border, but turned around and headed back to Canada.

Reindeer farms could threaten future efforts to reestablish caribou populations in their native habitat in North Idaho.