2014 Media

Press Releases

March 26, 2014: RCRW Maternity Penning Project News Release

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This image shows how the animals are situated in their natural environment. The maternity pen is built in the heart of their natural habitat and all of the captured caribou were moved less than 30 km. The caribou are currently eating arboreal lichen that was gathered by many local volunteers over the winter, which is their normal diet at this time of year. Over the next few weeks, specially formulated pellets will be introduced to their feed that replicate the nutrients the caribou would normally be ingesting from new spring growth.

This image shows how the animals are situated in their natural environment. The maternity pen is built in the heart of their natural habitat and all of the captured caribou were moved less than 30 km. The caribou are currently eating arboreal lichen that was gathered by many local volunteers over the winter, which is their normal diet at this time of year. Over the next few weeks, specially formulated pellets will be introduced to their feed that replicate the nutrients the caribou would normally be ingesting from new spring growth. Photo by Cory Legebokow.

The 12 caribou captured on Monday, March 24 appear to be adjusting well to life in the maternity pen. They grouped up almost immediately and are all feeding—good signs they are calm and comfortable. These photos were taken from a blind with a powerful lens. It’s vital that human contact is kept to an absolute minimum, so the project has strict protocols for feeding and observing the animals.

The 12 caribou captured on Monday, March 24 appear to be adjusting well to life in the maternity pen. They grouped up almost immediately and are all feeding—good signs they are calm and comfortable. These photos were taken from a blind with a powerful lens. It’s vital that human contact is kept to an absolute minimum, so the project has strict protocols for feeding and observing the animals. Photo by Cory Legebokow.

A cow and her 10-month old calf eat lichen from the feed trough. The original intention was to capture 10 female caribou for this project but two of the cows still had calves at their heels. There was no choice  but to include the two offspring, making a total of 12 caribou in the pen. Both calves are females. Photo by Cory Legebokow.

A cow and her 10-month old calf eat lichen from the feed trough. The original intention was to capture 10 female caribou for this project but two of the cows still had calves at their heels. There was no choice but to include the two offspring, making a total of 12 caribou in the pen. Both calves are females. Photo by Cory Legebokow.

Here is a good look at the collar and ear tag that was put on all the caribou at capture. These tools are part of the biologists’ arsenal to track the animals after they are released with their young calves in early to mid-July. These GPS collars send a daily email to the researchers, giving the animal’s location every two hours for the previous 24 hours. The newborns will be fitted with a collar with simpler technology, that ‘pings’ off their mother’s collar. In this way, the researchers can track calf mortality, because the only time the calf won’t be next to its mother is if it has died. The collars on both calves and mothers are designed to fall off after a year and will be collected, refurbished and reused. The ear tags are permanent, for long-term identification purposes.

Here is a good look at the collar and ear tag that was put on all the caribou at capture. These tools are part of the biologists’ arsenal to track the animals after they are released with their young calves in early to mid-July. These GPS collars send a daily email to the researchers, giving the animal’s location every two hours for the previous 24 hours. The newborns will be fitted with a collar with simpler technology, that ‘pings’ off their mother’s collar. In this way, the researchers can track calf mortality, because the only time the calf won’t be next to its mother is if it has died. The collars on both calves and mothers are designed to fall off after a year and will be collected, refurbished and reused. The ear tags are permanent, for long-term identification purposes. Photo by Cory Legebokow.

Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild (RCRW) team releases two pregnant caribou in the safety of the maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild (RCRW) team releases two pregnant caribou in the safety of the maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild (RCRW) capture team. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild (RCRW) capture team. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild (RCRW) team releases two pregnant caribou in the safety of the maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild (RCRW) team releases two pregnant caribou in the safety of the maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

The RCRW team brought in senior caribou biologist Rick Farnell from the Yukon to help guide the team. Rick has been a caribou biologist for over 30 years and was the director and project manager of the ground-breaking, three-year Chisana caribou maternity pen project in the Yukon. Photo by Rob Buchanan

The RCRW team brought in senior caribou biologist Rick Farnell from the Yukon to help guide the team. Rick has been a caribou biologist for over 30 years and was the director and project manager of the ground-breaking, three-year Chisana caribou maternity pen project in the Yukon. Photo by Rob Buchanan

University of Calgary veterinarian and anaesthesiologist Nigel Caulkett records the heart rate of a pregnant caribou before she is released into the protective maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

University of Calgary veterinarian and anaesthesiologist Nigel Caulkett records the heart rate of a pregnant caribou before she is released into the protective maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild (RCRW) team releases two pregnant caribou in the safety of the maternity pen and prepare to do an ultrasound on a third. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild (RCRW) team releases two pregnant caribou in the safety of the maternity pen and prepare to do an ultrasound on a third. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild (RCRW) team releases a pregnant caribou in the safety of the maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild (RCRW) team releases a pregnant caribou in the safety of the maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Splatsin Band Member and Shepherd Leonard Edwards cares for a caribou before she is released into the maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Splatsin Band Member and Shepherd Leonard Edwards cares for a caribou before she is released into the maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Splatsin First Nations elder Randy Williams blesses the maternity pen and thanks the team for “giving voice to the voiceless” in a ceremony that took place a week before the caribou were introduced into the pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Splatsin First Nation elder Randy Williams (foreground) blesses the maternity pen and thanks the team for “giving voice to the voiceless” in a ceremony that took place a week before the caribou were introduced into the pen. Emery Robins Sr. of the Okanagan Indian Band is in the background. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Caribou biologists Bruce McLelland and Rob Serrouya release caribou into the maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Caribou biologists Bruce McLellan and Rob Serrouya release caribou into the maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

University of Calgary veterinarian and theriogenologist (reproduction specialist) Rob McCorkell prepares to use a portable ultrasound machine to confirm the caribou is pregnant. Photo Rob Buchanan

University of Calgary veterinarian and theriogenologist (reproduction specialist) Rob McCorkell prepares to use a portable ultrasound machine to confirm the caribou is pregnant. Photo Rob Buchanan

BC Government’s Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Helen Schwantje processes a blood sample from a pregnant caribou before releasing her into the protective maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

BC Government’s Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Helen Schwantje processes a hair sample from a pregnant caribou before releasing her into the protective maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

BC Government’s Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Helen Schwantje processes a blood sample from a pregnant caribou before releasing her into the protective maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

BC Government’s Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Helen Schwantje processes a blood sample from a pregnant caribou before releasing her into the protective maternity pen. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Professional Forester Kevin Bollefer helps a pregnant caribou as they toboggan her into the protective maternity pen, where she will stay until early July when her calf will be stronger. The first weeks of life are precarious for young caribou. The maternity penning project aims to increase calf survival. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Professional Forester Kevin Bollefer helps a pregnant caribou as they toboggan her into the protective maternity pen, where she will stay until early July when her calf will be stronger. The first weeks of life are precarious for young caribou. The maternity penning project aims to increase calf survival. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Even the local ski gets involved, by providing free lift tickets to volunteers to pick arboreal lichen, the natural food that will sustain the pregnant caribou during their stay in the maternity pen. Volunteers Rachel Newby from Australia and Fernand Sylvain from Peace River, AB, harvest lichen from the trees on the side of the ski runs on Revelstoke Mountain Resort with senior caribou biologist John Flaa. Photo by Rob Buchanan.

Even the local ski resort gets involved, by providing free lift tickets to volunteers to pick arboreal lichen, the natural food that will sustain the pregnant caribou during their stay in the maternity pen. Volunteers Rachel Newby from Australia and Fernand Sylvain from Peace River, AB, harvest lichen from the trees on the side of the ski runs on Revelstoke Mountain Resort with senior caribou biologist John Flaa. Photo by Rob Buchanan.