Ontario caribou helicopter relocation plan announced by ministry
Wolves living on an island in Lake Superior are soon going to have to look harder for food as next year the Ontario government will be relocating a herd of caribou that they are killing.
The caribou, living on Michipicoten Island were more than 600 strong back in 2011, but since 2013, when a small pack of wolves were able to make their way from the mainland out to the island via an ice bridge that formed over the winter they have been dwindling and at last count less than 120 remain.
The announcement to relocate the caribou was made Thursday by Ontario’s minister of natural resources and forestry and will see the majority of the caribou herd moved by helicopter to the Slate Islands.
“We’re worried,” said ministry spokeswoman Jolanta Kowalski. “The caribou numbers are down considerably.”
She went on to say that not all the caribou will be moved: “We’ll move enough that we can hopefully ensure the viability of the species on the Slate Islands,” she said.
“Our hope is that the move goes well and the population survives,” Kowalski said. “This is their best chance.”
The hope is that in time, the transplanted caribou will breed with caribou already inhabiting the Slate Islands and thus grow back their population.
Ironically, back in 1982, the Ontario ministry moved a small number of caribou from the Slate Islands to Michipicoten island, and up until 2013, the herd was flurrishing.
“We will be transporting a suitable portion of the caribou population to the Slate Islands to ensure the continued viability of this important species on an island free from predators,” Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Kathryn McGarry said in a
The ministry have not yet set a date for the caribou move.
Caribou Canadian Icon
The caribou is one of the most recognizable when it comes to animals known to Canada.
Inhabiting the Arctic as well as boreal and mountain regions, their distinctive tall and flat antlers make them very distinguishable.
Male caribou are referred to as bulls and can reach a weight of 150 kilos, while females are called cows and can grow to a weight of 90 kilos.
While years ago, the cqaribou could be found in over 80 percent of Canada, hunting and predators have taken their toll on this majestic creature and now their numbers are falling fast. There have even been some cases reported across the country where entire herds have been wiped out.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca