The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this morning that it will be conducting a review of the status of the southern Selkirk Mountains population of woodland caribou.
In tomorrow's edition of Boise Weekly, we travel to Idaho's Panhandle to examine the caribou who travel the narrow southern spine of the Selkirk Mountains, which straddle Idaho and northeast Washington and up to British Columbia and Alberta, Canada.
This morning's announcement of a thorough review of the caribou, commonly known as Canadian reindeer, was in response to a petition to remove the animals from protections under the Endangered Species Act.
A recent survey found only 27 of the elusive caribou in the region.
"Designating habitat alone isn't going to recover the population," Brad Smith, Sandpoint-based conservation associate with the Idaho Conservation League told Boise Weekly.
Brian Kelly, USFWS Idaho State Supervisor, said this morning that his agency's initial review "found that information in the petition was substantial enough to conduct an in-depth state review."
The review, expected to last the better part of a year, is expected to help the agency decide on whether taking away ESA protections from the caribou is warranted.