Airlift planned to move Lake Superior caribou

December 12, 2017

By: The Working Forest Staff

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is taking steps to save a caribou herd on an island in Lake Superior by moving healthy animals to another island with an existing herd.

A statement from Minister Kathryn McGarry says: “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.”

“There is an existing caribou population on the Slate island and the transported animals will augment the existing herd and breed safely, which we hope will expand the population.”

According to an article on CBC News, the herd on Michipicoten Island in Lake Superior was reintroduced in the early 1980s. The population was as high as 700, but has decreased to less than 100 due to predation from wolves.

A more recent story on CBC News says the ministry’s plan is to transport the caribou by helicopter, but the details haven’t been worked out yet.

Minister McGarry says there were several competing opinions and plans on what to do, including those who wanted to let nature to take its course. 

A representative of the Michipicoten First Nation, Leo Lepiano, says the ministry’s action came after extensive lobbying from the community.

“It is very unfortunate that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Foresty allowed the situation to get to the point where the translocation of caribou is required,” he said.

Read the full articles here and here.

Photo: Lake Superior, by Andrew Balfour via Wikimedia Commons

Your comments.

  1. Anonymous says:

    What about removing the wolves as an option? It may be a lot cheaper and a more permanent fix. Will the other animals including rabbits, grouse, foxes, etc also be relocated before the wolves eat them all?

  2. Clark Brander says:

    Why not cull the wolf pack to a level where the two species can coexist on the island? Should be safer & much cheaper than moving caribou around by helicopter?
    What will the wolves on the island live on once the caribou are removed. Are they facing starvation? I think culling would be “kinder” than starvation & there is probably a market for wolf pelts?
    Culling seems to be a nationally accepted practice since Parks Canada is culling the moose population in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park in an effort to reduce brousing on young softwood trees & re establish the natural balsam fir forest that existed in the park before the spruce budworm was allowed to wipe it out in the mid 1970’s. Now the moose have to pay the price for letting “nature have it’s way” Doesn’t seem fair to me!

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