For Immediate Release, March 24, 2015
Greenwald, (503) 484-7495, firstname.lastname@example.org
(202) 772-0247, email@example.com
(509) 209-2406 firstname.lastname@example.org
Court Gives Idaho's Endangered
Caribou Another Chance for Adequately Protected Critical Habitat
Judge Finds U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Did Not Give
Public Opportunity to Comment on Agency's Decision to Cut Critical Habitat by
Idaho- In response to a lawsuit from a coalition
of six conservation organizations, a federal court has ordered the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service to reconsider its 2013 decision to reduce by 90 percent
its designation of critical habitat for the endangered mountain caribou.
court found in Monday's decision that the agency had not given the public
sufficient opportunity to comment on the final designation, which slashed
protected habitat for the beleaguered caribou from a proposed 375,562 acres to
a mere 30,010 acres.
recover mountain caribou in Idaho and Washington, but it can't be done without
protecting their habitat," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at
the Center for Biological Diversity. "I'm encouraged the lower 48's last
caribou will get another chance at being awarded the amount of critical habitat
that will truly foster their recovery."
once ranged across much of the northern lower 48 states, including the northern
Rocky Mountains, upper Midwest and Northeast. The last remaining population in
the northern Rocky Mountains was protected under the Endangered Species Act in
1984. In response to a 2002 petition from the conservation groups, the Fish and
Wildlife Service proposed designation of more than 375,000 acres in 2011. But
then, in a sharp reversal in 2012, the agency designated only about 30,000
acres for the animals, arguing that caribou primarily reside in Canada now and
that conservation efforts there are sufficient.
abdicate recovery of the bald eagle to Canada nor should we do so with the
caribou," said Senior Attorney Jason Rylander at Defenders of Wildlife. "It
will be a sad day if we have to tell our children and grandchildren that we
once had reindeer in the lower 48 states, but that we allowed them - like the
passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet and so many others - to be wiped out."
and Wildlife decision to slash critical habitat threatens to undermine habitat
protections called for in the species' federal recovery plan, which identified
the area needed for recovery as being somewhat larger than the proposed 375,000
acre designation. In 2005 the groups sued the Forest Service and obtained a closure
to snowmobile use for the habitat identified in the recovery plan. The final critical
habitat designation, however, includes only a fraction of this area, and the
Forest Service is already considering lifting the closure. With new
technologies allowing snowmobiles to get ever farther into the backcountry,
these machines are a major threat to the shy, easily spooked animals.
one step out of many that are needed to stop the decline of this small caribou
herd that likely once numbered in the hundreds," said Tim Layser, wildlife
biologist with the Selkirk Conservation Alliance. "With adequate protection
from the impacts of off-trail snowmobiling and other threats, caribou numbers
can once again be given a chance for recovery in the United States, although
other issues need to be addressed."
Mountain caribou are a unique form of woodland caribou adapted to
surviving winters of deep snow, with dinner-plate-sized hooves that work like
snowshoes and an ability to subsist for three to four months at a time on
nothing but arboreal lichens found on old-growth trees. U.S. caribou are part
of a population that straddles the border with British Columbia, with fewer
than 20 animals found on the U.S. side of the border in
The groups fighting for greater protection for the caribou are the
Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Selkirk Conservation
Alliance, The Lands Council, Idaho Conservation League and Defenders of
Wildlife, and were represented in litigation by Laurie Rule of Advocates for
Conservationists Challenge Wildlife
Services' Authority to Kill Wolves in Washington
Wildlife Services Activities Threaten Wolf Recovery, Healthy Ecosystems
Wash. - Today, the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) on behalf of five
conservation groups, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's (USDA) Wildlife Services program challenging its authority to
kill endangered wolves in Washington state.
Full press release
June 11, 2014
Rules sought for conflict over wolves
read full article in Spokesman Review
Wolf public meeting - January 16th
Are you concerned about how
Washington treats wolves? The recovery and management of gray wolves in will be
the topic of three public meetings this month hosted by the Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). A panel of experts will discuss ongoing
efforts to recover Washington's gray wolf population, the latest information
from population surveys in Washington and gray wolf management strategies used
in other states.
Meetings will include an
opportunity for the public to submit questions to the presenters about wolf
recovery and management. Tomorrow, Jan. 16 is where you can make your voice
heard at the Center Place Regional Event Center, 2426 N. Discovery Place,
Spokane Valley, 6-8 p.m.
Caribou Update: 12/18/12
Woodland caribou once roamed across many of the Lower 48 states,
but their numbers were decimated by habitat loss, poaching, motor vehicle
accidents and harassment by snowmobilers. Now, a small population along the
Washington/Idaho border has been hit hard by two recent decisions of the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service. First, the agency decided to only designated a
little over 30,000 acres for critical habitat - about 5% of their necessary
recovery area and far less than the 375,000 acres they proposed in November
Next, the agency has caved into a petition from the Pacific
Legal Foundation and its clients, Bonner County in Idaho and the Idaho State
Snowmobile Association and a new study to determine if the woodland caribou
found in Idaho and Washington should continue to be protected as an endangered
The woodland caribou, also known as mountain caribou, are a
distinct population that are very different from caribou in northern Canada and
Alaska, and were deemed endangered in 1984. It is undisputed that woodland
caribou are struggling to survive in the U.S. Only four were tallied in northern
Idaho and eastern Washington during an aerial census last winter, although the
U.S. population is estimated to total several dozen animals. They are found
only in the wildest part of the Selkirk Mountains, where road building and
logging has not occurred. The agency has twice before considered delisting
caribou and rejected the idea both times - hopefully that common sense will
prevail this time.
We think the Endangered Species Act should be enforced and that
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should spend their time improving their
recovery efforts, not cater to the special interests of a few individuals. We
support an economic recovery for the Priest Lake area, which can include
snowmobiling in some areas, but we also support quiet recreation and better
protection of habitat for caribou, grizzly, lynx, wolverine and other rare
species that make our region so special.
A very Faustian choice is upon us:
whether to accept our corrosive and risky behavior as the unavoidable
price of population and economic growth, or to take stock of ourselves
and search for a new environmental ethic. - Edward O. Wilson
The woodland caribou is considered one of the most
critically endangered mammals in the United States. Roaming wild expanses of
forests, woodland caribou historically traveled throughout Canada and the northern
United States. Tragically, this community of wandering large creatures, with
their distinctive antlers on both the males and females, their large hooves
adapted to snowy landscapes, their peculiar reliance on arboreal lichens for
food in winter, and their backdrop of stunning old-growth forests, has been
distilled into an argument of jobs vs. the environment.
The southern Selkirk population of the caribou belongs to a
unique mountain dwelling form of caribou known as the "mountain ecotype" that,
unlike other woodland caribou, do not form large herds or make large
migrations. Instead, these caribou migrate between low and high elevation
forests, and disperse widely within their range to avoid predators.
Thought to number between 200 to 400 caribou historically,
the southern Selkirk Mountains population, the only one remaining in the U.S., had
dwindled to approximately 25 by the time of its listing in 1984. Partly because
of repeated augmentation efforts taking from other populations, the Selkirks
herd has increased to about 46 caribou in the entire recovery area, which
straddles the U.S. - Canada border. Most of the animals stay in British
Columbia, with four or fewer found during aerial surveys by wildlife biologists
in recent years on the U.S. side of the border.
Once numbering in the thousands from northeast Washington to
Glacier National Park and south to the Clearwater River, with additional
strongholds in the Great Lakes states and Maine, the caribou recovery area
represents less than 1% of historic range once occupied by caribou in the lower
48 states. Except for this remaining Selkirks population, they were eliminated
by a combination of logging of their old-growth forest habitats, hunting and poaching,
and roads. Research shows caribou are displaced by snowmobiles and other winter
recreation activities and tend to avoid these areas in following years.
Wildfire has also affected the caribou's preferred habitat, as has predation by
mountain lions. Thus, natural events with which caribou have evolved pose
threats when combined with modern-day human activities.
The area managed for recovery since a Caribou Recovery Plan
was written in 1994 covers about 746,500 acres in the US. The recently proposed Critical Habitat is
375,565 acres-only about half the Recovery Area.
The mountain ecotype of caribou are a globally unique
species found only in the inland temperate rainforests of southeast British
Columbia and parts of Washington, Idaho and Montana. These caribou have survived two ice ages,
human development, and human degradation of their land. These endangered
animals symbolize the valuable remnants of a once-thriving ecosystem, with
clean air, clean water, and pristine forests.
Local government figures and others have expressed and
fomented fears that the proposed designation of critical habitat in the
southern Selkirk Mountains is just more federal meddling in local affairs. Some
snowmobile and timber interests believe that livelihoods would be threatened by
critical habitat designation, but since 1987 caribou recovery has been a part
of the forest plans for the Idaho Panhandle and Colville National Forests.
Designation of caribou critical habitat includes national forest habitats
already being managed by for caribou recovery.
- Click here to read the June 14, Spokesman Review article on snowmobiler-commissioned study.
- Click here to read the May 31, Spokesman Review article on draft economic analysis for recovery area.
- Click here to read the Spokesman Review article, Caribou face precarious prognosis, by Becky Kramer, February 26, 2012
- Click here to read the Spokesman Review article, Feds propose critical caribou habitat in Idaho, Washington, by Rich Landers, November 29, 2011
Click here to read The Spokesman Review article, Agency will study habitat of caribou - Conservationists hail decision as crucial for species' survival, by Becky Kramer, The Spokesman Review, June 4, 2009