A group of Idaho snowmobilers went to a federal courtroom Thursday in an effort to halt Endangered Species Act protections for woodland caribou that roam the Idaho Panhandle.
The caribou, the closest thing that North America has to reindeer, are rarely seen creatures with antlers as tall as a man. They occupy a remote area along the Idaho-Washington-Canadian borders.
But the Idaho State Snowmobile Association, along with Bonner County commissioners, have the Selkirk Mountain woodland caribou in their sights, claiming the animal population is too small to justify the ESA designation compared to the impact it would have on their local economy. Simply put, they want to snowmobile and resume logging operations inside the caribou's home.
In March, Bonner commissioners agreed to set aside as much as $10,000 in legal fees to fight the caribou's protection.
The woodland caribou are an isolated, one-of-a-kind herd and are considered one of the most endangered species in the continental United States. The group inhabits thick, high-elevation forests, feeding primarily on tree lichen. North of the border, they're called Canadian reindeer.