Wandering Caribou Returned to Canada from Montana


A radio-collared woodland caribou that wandered south into Montana from British Columbia has been returned to Canada.

On Thursday, FWP biologists received a report that a caribou was dead in the Salish Mountains in Pinkham Creek south of Eureka.  The report was based on a “mortality signal” from the radio collar the caribou wore. The female caribou was part of a woodland caribou augmentation effort in the south Purcell’s near Cranbrook just across the border.  In this effort, 19 caribou from northern B.C. had been released about 40 miles north of the U. S. border last month.

FWP’s Jim Williams, Tim Thier, and Tim Manley traveled by snowmobiles to the caribou location based on signals from the Argos collar the caribou wore.  They found the caribou alive but unable to stand.  After loading the animal on a sled, they transported her to the trailhead and then on to a veterinarian’s office in Eureka. The veterinarian treated the caribou with a drug to counter the effects of tick paralysis, which was the expected problem.  The caribou was also given two bags of IV fluid to combat dehydration.

FWP contacted biologists in British Columbia and the caribou was transported north.  As of today the animal is on its feet.  If the caribou recovers, B. C. wildlife officials plan to re-release the animal near resident caribou in B. C.

FWP Wildlife Manager Jim Williams noted that it is common for some animals to wander after they are released into new habitat.  Fortunately, this valuable animal was found alive and returned to wildlife managers in Canada.

Caribou were once native to Montana but are now considered very rare.  Occasionally, a caribou wanders south of the Canadian border into Montana.

Contact: Jim Williams, FWP Wildlife Manager, 751-4585.

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