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Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain population (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in Canada - 2014 [Final]

Appendix C: Biophysical Attributes for Southern Mountain Caribou Critical Habitat

Biophysical Attributes

Scientific published reports were used to summarize biophysical attributes required by southern mountain caribou to carry out life processes necessary for survival and recovery. Attributes are provided by southern mountain caribou Group in order to capture the ecological variation across the distribution of southern mountain caribou.

Biophysical Attribute Descriptions

The biophysical attributes for southern mountain caribou critical habitat are categorized by the types of habitat used. This is in accordance with seasonal and life-stage activity which include spring migration, calving, summer, rutting, early winter, and late winter. This information is provided in the following tables by Group.

Biophysical attributes will vary both between and within southern mountain caribou ranges. Since the biophysical attributes presented in this recovery strategy were developed at the Group scale and not by subpopulation, Environment Canada is committed to working with each provincial jurisdiction to provide affected decision makers and stakeholders with additional guidance on how specific activities are likely to affect the biophysical attributes of critical habitat.

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Table C-1. Attributes for southern mountain caribou critical habitat (CH) in the Northern Group.
PeriodCHFunctionFeaturesAttributes
Summer Range (Spring)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel (migration)
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests
  • Mineral licks
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Relatively snow-free or low snow areas with minimal obstructions
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, emergent vegetation
  • Mineralized soils, wetlands
Summer Range (Spring)Low Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel (migration)
  • Low elevation pine, pine/spruce, spruce, meadows, wetlands, forested wetlands
  • Mineral licks
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Relatively snow-free or low snow areas with minimal obstructions
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, emergent vegetation
  • Mineralized soils, wetlands
Summer Range (Calving)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests.
  • Very low predation risk
  • No sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, emergent vegetation
Summer Range (Calving)Low Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Lower and mid elevation forested habitats (pine, spruce, mixed stands, wetlands, forested wetlands).
  • Islands in lakes.
  • Very low predation risk
  • No sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, emergent vegetation
Summer Range (Summer)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • Insect relief
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests.
  • Very low predation risk
  • No sensory disturbance
  • Windy areas for insect relief
  • Snow patches for insect relief
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, forbs, grasses, alpine sedges
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Summer Range (Summer)Low Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • Insect relief
  • Lower or mid elevation forested habitats (pine, spruce, fir, cedar, hemlock, mixed stands), wetlands, forested wetlands.
  • Islands in lakes
  • Very low predation risk
  • No sensory disturbance
  • Windy areas for insect relief
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, forbs, grasses, sedges
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Summer Range (Fall/Rut)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel (migration)
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests.
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, forbs, grasses, alpine sedges
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Summer Range (Fall/Rut)Low Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel (migration)
  • Lower or mid elevation forested habitats (pine, spruce, fir, cedar, hemlock, mixed stands), wetlands, forested wetlands.
  • Islands in lakes
  • Very low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, forbs, grasses, alpine sedges
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Winter Range (Early Winter)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • Windswept alpine slopes
  • High elevation subalpine parkland and subalpine forests
  • Lakes
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, horsetails
  • Access to ice/free water/slush
  • Canopy snow interception (travel)
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Winter Range (Early Winter)Low Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • Low elevation forested habitats (pine, spruce, pine/spruce mixed stands), meadows, wetlands, forested wetlands.
  • Lakes
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, horsetails
  • Access to ice/free water/slush
  • Canopy snow interception (travel)
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Winter Range (Late Winter)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • Windswept alpine slopes
  • High elevation subalpine parkland and subalpine forests
  • Lakes
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, horsetails
  • Access to ice/free water/slush
  • Canopy snow interception (travel)
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Winter Range (Late Winter)Low Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • Low elevation forested habitats (pine, spruce, pine/spruce mixed stands, black spruce fringes around wetlands), meadows, wetlands, forested wetlands.
  • Lakes
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, horsetails
  • Access to ice/free water/slush
  • Canopy snow interception (travel)
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Matrix RangeType 1
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel (migration)
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests
  • Lower or mid elevation forested habitats (pine, spruce, fir, cedar, hemlock, mixed stands), meadows, wetlands, forested wetlands.
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, forbs, grasses, sedges
  • Relatively snow-free or low snow areas with minimal physical obstructions (spring migration)
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Matrix RangeType 2
  • Security
  • Travel (dispersal)
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests
  • Low elevation forested habitats (pine, spruce, pine/spruce mixed stands, black spruce fringes around wetlands), meadows, wetlands, forested wetlands.
  • Low predation risk
  • Low predator abundance

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Table C-2. Attributes for southern mountain caribou critical habitat (CH) in the Central Group.
PeriodCHFunctionFeaturesAttributes
Summer Range (Spring)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel (migration)
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests
  • Mineral licks
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Relatively snow-free or low snow areas with minimal obstructions
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, emergent vegetation
  • Mineralized soils, wetlands
Summer Range (Calving)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests.
  • Very low predation risk
  • No sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, emergent vegetation
Summer Range (Summer)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • Insect relief
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests.
  • Very low predation risk
  • No sensory disturbance
  • Windy areas for insect relief
  • Snow patches for insect relief
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, forbs, grasses, alpine sedges
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Summer Range (Fall/Rut)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel (migration)
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests.
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, forbs, grasses, alpine sedges
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Winter Range (Early Winter)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • Windswept alpine slopes
  • High elevation subalpine parkland and subalpine forests
  • Lakes
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, horsetails
  • Access to ice/free water/slush
  • Canopy snow interception (travel)
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Winter Range (Early Winter)Low Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • Low elevation forested habitats (pine, spruce, pine/spruce mixed stands), meadows, wetlands, forested wetlands.
  • Lakes
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, horsetails
  • Access to ice/free water/slush
  • Canopy snow interception (travel)
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Winter Range (Late WinterHigh Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • Windswept alpine slopes
  • High elevation subalpine parkland and subalpine forests
  • Lakes
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, horsetails
  • Access to ice/free water/slush
  • Canopy snow interception (travel)
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Winter Range (Late WinterLow Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • Low elevation forested habitats (pine, spruce, pine/spruce mixed stands, black spruce fringes around wetlands), meadows, wetlands, forested wetlands.
  • Lakes
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, horsetails
  • Access to ice/free water/slush
  • Canopy snow interception (travel)
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Matrix RangeType 1
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel (migration)
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests
  • Lower or mid elevation forested habitats (pine, spruce, mixed stands), wetlands, forested wetlands.
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, forbs, grasses, sedges
  • Relatively snow-free or low snow areas with minimal physical obstructions (spring migration)
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Matrix RangeType 2
  • Security
  • Travel (dispersal)
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests
  • Low elevation forested habitats (pine, spruce, pine/spruce mixed stands, black spruce fringes around wetlands), meadows, wetlands, forested wetlands.
  • Low predation risk
  • Low predator abundance

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Table C-3. Attributes for southern mountain caribou critical habitat (CH) in the Southern Group.
PeriodCHFunctionFeaturesAttributes
Summer Range (Spring)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel (migration)
  • High elevation subalpine parkland, and high and mid elevation subalpine forests
  • Mineral licks
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to abundant arboreal lichens, emergent vegetation
  • Mineralized soils, wetlands
Summer Range (Spring)Low Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel (migration)
  • Low elevation old forests of cedar,
  • hemlock and spruce
  • Avalanche chutes
  • Burns
  • Mineral licks
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to abundant arboreal lichens, arboreal lichens on fallen trees, lichen litterfall, shrubs, forbs
  • Mineralized soils, wetlands
Summer Range (Calving)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests.
  • Very low predation risk
  • No sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, emergent vegetation
Summer Range (Summer)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • Insect relief
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests.
  • Very low predation risk
  • No sensory disturbance
  • Windy areas for insect relief
  • Snow patches for insect relief
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, forbs, grasses, sedges
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Summer Range (Fall/Rut)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel (migration)
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests.
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to terrestrial lichens, arboreal lichens, forbs, grasses, alpine sedges
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Winter Range (Early Winter)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • High elevation subalpine parkland, and high and mid elevation subalpine forests
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to abundant arboreal lichens
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Winter Range (Early Winter)Low Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • Low elevation old forests of cedar, hemlock and spruce
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to arboreal lichens, arboreal lichens on fallen trees, lichen litterfall, falsebox (Paxistima myrsinites)
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Winter Range (Late Winter)High Elevation
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel
  • High elevation subalpine parkland and subalpine forests
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to abundant arboreal lichens
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Matrix RangeType 1
  • Security
  • Foraging
  • Travel (migration)
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests
  • Low elevation old forests of cedar, hemlock and spruce
  • Low predation risk
  • Low sensory disturbance
  • Access to arboreal lichens and other vegetation
  • Minimal physical obstructions
Matrix RangeType 2Table C-3 notegg
  • Security
  • Travel (dispersal)
  • High elevation alpine, subalpine parkland and subalpine forests
  • Low elevation forests (cedar, hemlock, spruce).
  • Low predation risk
  • Low predator abundance

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Literature consulted

Northern Group

Backmeyer, R. 2000. Seasonal habitat use and movements of woodland caribou in the Graham River drainage, 1988-1994. Peace/Williston Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, Report No. 225. 26 p + appendices.

Cichowski, D. 1993. Seasonal movements, habitat use and winter feeding ecology of woodland caribou in west-central British Columbia. B.C. Min. For., Victoria, B.C. Land Manage. Rep. No. 79. 54 p.

Culling, D., B. Culling and T. Raabis. 2005. Seasonal habitat use and movements of Graham caribou 2001 to 2003: Final Report. Prepared for Canadian Forest Products Ltd. and BCMinistry of Water, Land and Air Protection, Fort St. John, B.C. 88 p.

Poole, K., D. Heard and G. Mowat. 2000. Habitat use by woodland caribou near Takla Lake in central British Columbia. Can. J. Zool.78:1552-1561.

Steventon, D. 1996. Caribou habitat use in the Chelaslie River migration corridor and recommendations for management. BC Ministry of Forests, Victoria, B.C., Land Management Handbook 37. 17 p.

Stronen, A. 2000. Habitat selection and calf survival in the Telkwa caribou herd, British Columbia 1997-2000. MSc. Thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. 125 p.

Terry, E., and M. Wood. 1999. Seasonal movements and habitat selection by woodland caribou in the Wolverine herd, North-central British Columbia Phase 2: 1994-1997. Peace/Williston Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program Report No. 204. 36 p. plus appendices.

Wood, M. and E. Terry. 1999. Seasonal movements and habitat selection by woodland caribou in the Omineca Mountains, north-central British Columbia Phase 1: The Chase and Wolverine Herds (1991-1994). Peace/Williston Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program Report No. 201. 41p plus appendices.

Young, J. and L. Roorda. 1999. Towards integrated management solutions: the Itcha-Ilgachuz caribou project radio-telemetry year four progress report 1995-99. BC Ministry of Environment and Lands, Cariboo Region, Williams Lake, B.C. 51 p.

Young, J., J. Youds, and N. Freeman. 2001. Status of the Charlotte Alplands caribou herd: a successful short distance caribou transplant. Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, Williams Lake, B.C., Unpublished report. 26 p.

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Central Group

Alberta Woodland Caribou Recovery Team. 2005. Alberta woodland caribou recovery plan 2004/05 – 2013/14. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division. Alberta Species at Risk Recovery Plan No. 4. Edmonton, AB. 48pp.

BC Ministry of Environment. 2013. Implementation plan for the ongoing management of South Peace Northern Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou pop.15) in British Columbia. Victoria, B.C.

Brown, W.K., J.L. Kansas, and D.C. Thomas. 1994. The Greater Jasper Ecosystem Caribou Research Project, Seven chapters in final report prepared for Parks Canada, Calgary, and World Wildlife Fund, Toronto, by TAEM and Sentar Consultants, Calgary. 298 p.

Edmonds, E. J. 1988. Population status, distribution, and movements of woodland caribou in west central Alberta. Canadian Journal of Zoology 66:817-826.

Jones, E. 2007. Use, selection and winter foraging patterns among woodland caribou herds in central British Columbia. M.Sc. Thesis. University of Northern British Columbia. Prince George, B.C. 128 p.

Jones, E. 2008. Seasonal habitat use and selection by woodland caribou herds in the South Peace region, central British Columbia. Prepared for BC Ministry of Environment, Prince George, B.C.

Saher, D. J. 2005. Woodland caribou habitat selection during winter and along migratory routes in West-Central Alberta, M.Sc. Thesis, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.

Shepherd, L., F. Schmiegelow and E. Macdonald. 2007. Managing fire for woodland caribou in jasper and Banff National parks. Rangifer Special Issue No.17:129-140.

Szkorupa, T. 2002. Multi-scale habitat selection by mountain caribou in west central Alberta. MSc. thesis. University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta. 92 p.

Williamson-Ehlers, E. 2012. Impacts of industrial developments on the distribution and movement ecology of wolves (Canis lupus) and woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in the south Peace Region of British Columbia. MSc. thesis, University of Northern British Columbia. 163 p.

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Southern Group

Apps, C., McLellan, B., Kinley, T., and J. Flaa. 2001. Scale-dependent habitat selection by mountain caribou, Columbia Mountains, British Columbia. Journal of Wildlife Management, 65, 65-77.

BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. 2007. Mountain Caribou Recovery Actions – Backgrounder. B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Integrated Land Management Bureau, Victoria, B.C. 2p.

Hamilton, D., S. Wilson, and G. Smith. 2000. Mountain caribou habitat use and population characteristics for the Central Selkirks caribou inventory project. Prepared for Pope & Talbot Ltd., Meadow Creek Cedar, Slocan Forest Products Ltd., and Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. 65 p.

Jones, E. 2007. Use, selection and winter foraging patterns among woodland caribou herds in central British Columbia. M.Sc. Thesis. University of Northern British Columbia. Prince George, B.C. 128 p.

Kinley, T., T. Goward, B. McLellan, and R. Serrouya. 2007. The influence of variable snowpacks on habitat use by mountain caribou. Rangifer Special Issue No.17:93-102.

Mowat, G., T.Kinley and S. Pendray. 1998. Caribou site level habitat selection and home range patterns in the North Thompson watershed of British Columbia. Prepared for Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, Kamloops, B.C.

Seip, D. 1990. Ecology of woodland caribou in Wells Gray Provincial Park. BC Ministry of Environment Wildlife Bulletin No.B-68, Victoria, B.C. 43 p.

Seip, D. 1992. Habitat use and population status of woodland caribou in the Quesnel Highlands, British Columbia. BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, Wildlife Bulletin No. B-71, Williams Lake, B.C. 50 p.

Simpson, K. 1987. Impacts of a hydro-electric reservoir on populations of caribou and grizzly bear in southern British Columbia. Prepared for BCMinistry of Environment and Parks, Nelson, B.C. Wildlife Working Report WR-24. 37 p.

Terry, E., B. McLellan, G. Watts and J. Flaa. 1996. Early winter habitat use by mountain caribou in the North Cariboo and Columbia Mountains, British Columbia. Rangifer Special Issue No. 9:133-140.

Terry, E., B. McLellan and G. Watts. 2000. Winter habitat ecology of mountain caribou in relation to forest management. Journal of Applied Ecology 37:589-602.

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National Parks

Apps, C., McLellan, B., Kinley, T., and J. Flaa. 2001. Scale-dependent habitat selection by mountain caribou, Columbia Mountains, British Columbia. Journal of Wildlife Management, 65, 65-77.

Hamilton, D., S. Wilson, and G. Smith. 2000. Mountain caribou habitat use and population characteristics for the Central Selkirks caribou inventory project. Prepared for Pope & Talbot Ltd., Meadow Creek Cedar, Slocan Forest Products Ltd., and Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. 65 p.

Hebblewhite, M., J. Whittington, M. Bradley, G. Skinner, A. Dibb and C. White. 2007. Conditions for caribou persistence in the wolf-elk-caribou systems of the Canadian Rockies. Rangifer Special Issue No. 17:79-91.

Kinley, T., T. Goward, B. McLellan, and R. Serrouya. 2007. The influence of variable snowpacks on habitat use by mountain caribou. Rangifer Special Issue No.17:93-102

Serrouya, R., B. McLellan, C. Apps and H. Wittmer. 2008. A synthesis of scale dependent ecology of the endangered mountain caribou in British Columbia, Canada. Rangifer 28:33-46.

Serrouya, R., B. McLellan, S. Boutin, D. Seip and S. Nielsen. 2011. Developing a population target for an overabundant ungulate for ecosystem restoration. Journal of Applied Ecology 48:935-942.

Serrouya, R., B. N. McLellan, and J. P. Flaa. 2007. Scale‐dependent microhabitat selection by threatened mountain caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in cedar-hemlock forests during winter. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 37:1082‐1092.

Terry, E., B. McLellan and G. Watts. 2000. Winter habitat ecology of mountain caribou in relation to forest management. Journal of Applied Ecology 37:589-602.

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Jasper / Banff biophysical attributes

Whittington, J., M. Bradley and G. Skinner. 2005. South Jasper Woodland Caribou Research Progress Project Report for 2004-2005. Parks Canada Agency. 30 p.

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