L48 Caribou - Is there a bigger conservation failure of our lifetime?

MTGomer

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Oh, most of you didn’t even know there were caribou in the lower 48?
Well, today it was announced there have been some sightings in Montana. Other than that there are +/- 6 (yes, six) in Northeast Washington, and they are about to be captured and taken to a captive breeding pen in Canada.

Read the article. Replace ‘caribou’ with Grey Wolf, Grizzly Bear or even Black footed ferret, Lynx, Sage Grouse, Spotted Owl, or Timothy’s two-toed blue cocked orange speckle throated obscure swamp cricket or any other species imaginable.
Do you wonder, like I do, ‘How does this happen?’

No government agencies have made any meaningful efforts to do anything, there hasn’t been a group dedicated to caribou conservation until very very very recently, I haven’t done anything, you haven’t done anything, the serial environmental litigants haven’t done anything.

In the words of one of the philosophical minds of our time. ‘Sad’.


https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/nov/03/gone-from-the-lower-48-last-6-wild-caribou-in-on-t/?fbclid=IwAR1R8CtGSy9-WFsOmA_SCynfypjXuS3nSESnNRwa3s17u7uf2rI8UKoaKNM
 

TheTone

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I share many of the same sentiments you expressed. It blows my mind that its gotten to where it has with them.
 

MinnesotaHunter

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Some more reading for those interested. There are anecdotal sightings of caribou in MN as recently as 2004, likely animals that wandered down from Ontario. As I understand it the last breading pair spotted in MN was around 1993, but I have also read some accounts saying it was in the 1980s. The narrative around the herd on the island in Lake Superior is kind of interesting (it is the first link).

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/4384144-last-lake-superior-caribou-herd-may-be-down-30

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1007&context=natlpark

https://www.lakesuperior.com/the-lake/natural-world/375-last-of-the-gray-ghosts/
 

beagle001

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Some more reading for those interested. There are anecdotal sightings of caribou in MN as recently as 2004, likely animals that wandered down from Ontario. As I understand it the last breading pair spotted in MN was around 1993, but I have also read some accounts saying it was in the 1980s. The narrative around the herd on the island in Lake Superior is kind of interesting (it is the first link).
Interesting stuff!
 

BWALKER77

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Some more reading for those interested. There are anecdotal sightings of caribou in MN as recently as 2004, likely animals that wandered down from Ontario. As I understand it the last breading pair spotted in MN was around 1993, but I have also read some accounts saying it was in the 1980s. The narrative around the herd on the island in Lake Superior is kind of interesting (it is the first link).

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/4384144-last-lake-superior-caribou-herd-may-be-down-30

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1007&context=natlpark

https://www.lakesuperior.com/the-lake/natural-world/375-last-of-the-gray-ghosts/
When I lived in NW Ontario a few hours north of I-Falls Inwoukd see a caribou every few years.
 

neffa3

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To answer your question, I say no. I think the demise of salmon in the lower 48 is a larger failure, as we've known what not to do, for centuries, yet we've continued to ignore science, build more hatcheries, and watch runs in the millions fall to run in the hundreds. Just in the last couple decades we've gone from half a million sockeye returning to Lake Washington to less than 10k. While there are outliers that are still doing well (pinks) the end of meaningful recreational salmon fishing will come in my lifetime.
 

BrentD

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To answer your question, I say no. I think the demise of salmon in the lower 48 is a larger failure, as we've known what not to do, for centuries, yet we've continued to ignore science, build more hatcheries, and watch runs in the millions fall to run in the hundreds. Just in the last couple decades we've gone from half a million sockeye returning to Lake Washington to less than 10k. While there are outliers that are still doing well (pinks) the end of meaningful recreational salmon fishing will come in my lifetime.

I'd have to agree with this.

I don't really see what the issue is with the caribou. What's the problem?
 

RobG

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Wolves and Bear declines were mostly due to persecution by humans so that wasn't too hard to undo. The cause of the decline of Caribou is less understood and they've been on the edge for decades.

I agree with salmon too.
 

MTGomer

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From my understanding, building logging roads into caribou habitat, then allowing snowmobiling on them, which provides easy access to otherwise snowbound caribou for predators like wolves is a major contributor to their demise.

I can see how salmon could be as big/bigger issue.
 

Repair4

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It is almost mind boggling how we as a country could invest so much time and effort into restoring apex predators that have a much more minor role on the landscape and ignore species that form one of the more fundamental links in the food chain like salmon. Are they not sexy enough? I'll admit that I was completely ignorant of the precipitous decline of the Mountain Caribou until I read the article in the latest issue of Bugle. I'm not going to lie, it was a pretty embarrassing moment when I read that article. I had assumed that most of the Caribous herds in North America were relatively well monitored and that red flags would start popping up when their populations went into drastic decline like they have with Newfoundland and some of the herds farther north in Canada and Alaska.
 

BrentD

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Repair 4, don't underestimate the effects of top predators on the biotic and even abiotic features of a landscape.

That's not to undersell salmon at all, but rather just that sharp, pointy teeth matter in many systems, and they do it in ways that were hardly imagined until we put some of them back.
 

neffa3

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True, and top predators play a vital roll. But take Puget Sound for example, you could take away to Orcas (basically the aquatic top predator) or you could take a away the salmon, which would then take away the orcas and you'd have a double whammy. It's like a jinga tower take shit away at the bottom and the entire tower above collapses.
 
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