Photo: RCRW

Photo: Cory Legebokow, Aerial view of the Revelstoke RCRW Maternity Pen

To address the issue of increased caribou predation, the CMU tested predator exclosures in northeastern Alberta in 2014 and 2015. Predator exclosures physically exclude predators from a particular species, such as caribou, using a structural barrier or fence. The trials tested various fence designs across different habitat-types in boreal Alberta, and evaluated whether the fencing could keep predators from entering a baited site. Knowledge gained from these tests is helping to inform the development of large predator-free areas for caribou, such as those already included in a draft range plan for the Little Smoky and À La Pêche caribou ranges.

The CMU also plays a scientific advisory role for caribou maternal penning projects in BC, translating learnings to support caribou recovery in Alberta. The Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild (RCRW) project is in a trial phase with the goal of increasing calf survival by capturing pregnant caribou and transporting them to a secure holding pen to give birth. Calves are kept penned with their mothers for one month to protect them from predators during their most vulnerable stage. Maternal penning has shown some promising results, adding eight calves (a 21% increase) to the wild population since its inception in 2014. Though the maternity pen has doubled calf survival compared to “wild” survival rates, it has not yet resulted in any measurable increases to the population growth rate.