CAROLINA’S CARIBOU RANCHING GROUND IS ON LIFE SUPPORT FOR THE LAST OF ITS HOMES.
It’s a bleak picture for a community with a population of more than 10,000.
The Caribou herd of the Columbia River is no longer a part of the North American herd.
A study released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showed the number of the animals on the reservation had fallen to around 2,500 and the population was down to about 100.
It’s not the end of the story for the Caribou, though.
The group has the potential to become a model for other endangered herds in the region, said David P. Anderson, director of the USFWS’ National Wildlife Health Program.
“It’s going to be interesting to see what happens in the next 10 years,” he said.
“There are some opportunities to have those populations expand.”
Anderson, a former wildlife biologist, said the Cariboo herd has experienced a drop in numbers over the past several decades.
“The decline in the number is due to people moving out and out of the region,” he explained.
“It’s due to the loss of habitat, it’s due in part to the decline in population and, of course, climate change.
So it’s going on all of those fronts.”
While some have suggested that the Caribo herd has been going extinct, Anderson said the numbers were still dropping.
He said the herd had been in decline for a decade before the drought hit.
“We don’t know if the population is stable,” he told ABC News.
Despite the loss, Anderson says he’s hopeful the Caribos can rebound.
“I think the herd is healthy and the animals are well cared for,” he noted.
While the Cariboos are a model of recovery, the fate of the rest of the herd has not been determined.
“The population is on life support for the last of its homes,” Anderson said.
He said the US Fish and Wildlife Service was still working on determining the status of the remaining Cariboo herds in North America.
A survey conducted in late January found that about 90 percent of the herds on the Columbia are still in their old range, while the remaining 10 percent were in a new range that could be used for the herd’s future.
The Columbia River, which spans North America from Alaska to Canada, is the world’s largest freshwater source for the native Caribou.
The animals are native to the eastern plains of Canada and parts of the United States, and can be found in the Great Lakes region and the Gulf of Mexico.
In North America, the Caribous are the largest species of Canada geese, according to the Canadian government.