Wolves to drive caribou to extinction?
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
February 11, 2008
A long-time Canadian caribou researcher has proposed that unless wolf populations are controlled, two distinct caribou populations will fall to extinction.
Arthur T. Bergerud's article in Rangifer notes: "The Southern Mountain and Boreal Woodland Caribou are facing extinction from increased predation, pre-dominantly wolves and coyotes. These predators are increasing as moose and deer expand their range north with climate change. Mitigation endeavors will not be sufficient; there are too many predators. The critical habitat for caribou is the low predation risk habitat they select at calving: It is not old growth forests and climax lichens. The southern boundary of caribou in North America is not based on the presence of lichens but on reduced mammalian diversity. Caribou are just as adaptable as other cervids in their use of broadleaf seed plant as forage. Without predator management these woodland caribou will go extinct in our life time."
Bergerud asserts that if these populations go extinct, it is not because we didn't know what to do to keep it from happening. In contrast, we simply won't have the political will to do it.