Identifying and Restoring Caribou Connectivity Corridors

  • Location: Southern Mountain Caribou range

The Tweedsmuir and Itcha Ilgachuz caribou herds, part of the northern group of the Southern Mountain caribou population, have historically been connected. In recent years connections between herds have been broken in numerous undefined places through forest harvesting, road construction, and industrial activities (e.g., hydropower dams, mines).

Protected areas have become the cornerstone of caribou conservation in the study area. Herd-specific prioritization tools are needed to enable the scientific valuation of the landscape. This includes assessments of specific habitat areas required to maintain caribou habitat and connectivity.

Since 2021, KES has worked to develop models at landscape scales to prioritize connectivity corridors between the Tweedsmuir and Itcha Ilgachuz caribou herds. Mapping has aimed to maintain habitat and set restoration objectives to preserve essential and historic connectivity between the caribou herds. Connectivity corridors were identified through GPS collar data from 2018 to 2021, sign surveys, GIS habitat models, and Indigenous Knowledge of caribou movement.

Through this work, KES has successfully identified three potential restoration areas aimed at maintaining connectivity between the two caribou herds.