FWS mulls status review for Idaho's caribou population

Posted: Dec 20, 2012

Written by

ROCKY BARKER, Idaho Statesman/GW
Woodland caribou

The woodland caribou population living in Idaho will undergo a 12-month status review evaluating its spot on the federal endangered species list.

The move comes after Bonner County, Idaho, and the Idaho State Snowmobile Association submitted a petition to the Fish and Wildlife Service to remove Endangered Species Act protections on the animal. Brandon Middleton, the Pacific Legal Foundation lawyer who filed the petition, says reindeer and caribou found across the globe are the same species.

"This petition questions whether the southern Selkirk Mountains population of woodland caribou warrants listing under ESA," said Brian Kelly, the FWS's Idaho state supervisor. "Our initial review found that information in the petition was substantial enough to conduct an in-depth status review."

Last winter, researchers tallied fewer than 30 caribou in the Selkirk Mountains. After the caribou were listed in 1983, officials shuttered roads and snowmobile trails to protect the animals.

"This is the last population of caribou in the lower 48 states and certainly worthy of our care and protection," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "If it were up to the Pacific Legal Foundation, caribou, Puget Sound orcas and many other species would be allowed to go extinct in the contiguous United States simply because they also live in Canada."

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