Distribution and abundance of the Finlay Caribou herd
Population monitoring of Woodland Caribou is used to document and track changes in the population status of each herd over time. For Northern Caribou, obtaining accurate counts or detecting small changes in the population may be more difficult if animals winter in lower elevations because the associated forest cover in these areas makes spotting caribou more challenging from the air. Assessed in 2002, little is known of the current abundance and distribution of the Finlay Caribou herd. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources Operations is planning to conduct a population assessment of caribou in the Finlay range. This project supports the purchase and deployment of 20 GPS collars which will provide detailed information on the distribution of the herd and allow for a sightability correction during the population census.
Final Report: Executive Summary
The FWCP-Peace Species of Interest Action Plan (Action1b–2), relates to implementing projects identified through approved recovery strategies, action plans and management plans. Regional and federal recovery/management plans highlight population monitoring for Northern Mountain caribou herds as a high priority. The main objective of this study is to conduct a detailed assessment of population size, habitat use and distribution of the Finlay caribou herd by maintaining a sample of 10 GPS radio collars on adult female caribou. The project consists of 3 phases: 1) collar purchase and deployment, 2) population monitoring and annual calf surveys (March 2020 and 2021)), and 3) collection and analysis of location data inform seasonal range use/boundary delineation. In 2017 and 2018, 9 GPSradio collars (3 and 6 respectively) were deployed on adult female caribou (Rangifer tarandus), 6 were within the Finlay caribou range and 3 were in the area south of the Finlay range, north of the Ospika Arm. Within the Finlay range, a total of 19 caribou were counted in 5 different groups based on observations during pre-capture recon flights and during collar deployment. An additional 18 caribou were observed during a census flight by Hansen (2018) in the area of interest north of Ospika Arm. The GPS collars are programmed to collect 4-6 locations each day over 3 years. Collection of GPS telemetry locations is ongoing and aerial surveys are planned for March 2019 and 2020.
Click the provincial database link below to read the full final report for this project.