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Webinar – Managing for Caribou Recovery I: A focus on habitat issues

2020-10-13 @ 12:00 13:00 MDT

Our October webinar was the first part in a two-part series focusing on caribou recovery. Our first round of talks focused on habitat related management research or actions that aim to better understand the effectiveness of habitat restoration and explore different land-use management options to recover caribou populations in Alberta. 

This webinar was sponsored by Fuse Consulting Ltd.

See the speaker abstracts here.

Webinar Summary

Our first speaker was Melanie Dickie from the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI). Restoration of habitat has been identified as an essential component of caribou recovery, but different intensities and forms of habitat restoration haven’t always been tested for efficacy. Melanie’s research explored the predicted success of restoration for recovering caribou using predator-prey simulations, and empirically testing the effectiveness of restoration treatments. Melanie compared habitat use along restored linear disturbances and non-restored linear features. Through a multiple-lines-of-evidence approach, she described caribou, moose, wolf, and bear response to habitat restoration treatments. Caribou consistently tended to decrease their use of treated linear features as treatment intensity and cumulative area treated increased. Moose and wolves used linear features treated with high intensity treatments less, but did not change their overall use of linear features within the restoration area as restoration progressed. Black bears were the least responsive to restoration intensity and the progression of restoration treatments. Melanie stressed the need for continued monitoring to measure restoration effectiveness as questions regarding how big or how intense a restoration effort should be remained unanswered.

Matt Munson from the Dene Tha’ First Nation and Gillian Chow-Fraser from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society tag-teamed the next presentation sharing their efforts to integrate Traditional Knowledge in a community-based monitoring program with the ultimate goal of informing a management plan for a proposed Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA). Their work focused on the northwest corner of Alberta, where an IPCA may create an opportunity for leadership by the Dene Tha’ First Nation in caribou recovery actions for the Bistcho herd. Their research approach prioritized collaborations and incorporating a diversity of perspectives in the monitoring program. Through a series of interviews and workshops, they mapped Traditional Knowledge in the Bistcho Lake area to identify important features, such as predator refuges, resting areas, and traditional hunting grounds. Through this mapping exercise, they learned to expand their study area and identified critical areas for the Bistcho caribou herd. Using a western-science approach, they worked with the Dene Tha’ to deploy a series of remote cameras to improve habitat selection modeling efforts and increase our understanding of how Bistcho Lake is used by the herd. Project outcomes include an integrated, interdisciplinary knowledge base to inform caribou management planning, and an empowered community that is regaining agency in stewarding their traditional lands and resources.

Our webinar closed with a presentation about partial cutting by Kirby Smith. Kirby’s presentation focused on a logging method that was experimentally applied more than 20 years ago in west central Alberta with a goal of enhancing terrestrial lichens. This method of logging attempts to address the elimination of lichen habitat essential for caribou that occurs with conventional clear-cut logging, reduce the creation of new access roads for logging, and reduce habitat available to alternate prey species. Partial cutting is essentially a logging method that selectively removes a high percentage, but not all of the trees. With partial cutting, the timber is processed onsite instead of at roadside, then the logs are carried to the road rather than skidded. This method experimentally removed up to 80% of the timber volume. This approach is more labour intensive, thus generating more jobs. Treated areas did not increase moose forage availability and other research results suggest that additional species, such as grizzly bears and bull trout, could also benefit from the approach. Kirby is working with various ACTWS partners to recommend a 10-year experiment conducting partial cutting in areas that have already been approved for timber removal within mountain caribou range.

Webinar Results

This webinar was attended by 55 people and 95% of them thought the webinar was useful. Most participants would recommend ACTWS webinars to others, which is great!

Join us in November for Part 2 of Managing for Caribou Recovery where our talks will focus on species dynamics. Details to come on our events page.

See the Webinar!

A video of the webinar is posted in our members area.

Sponsor a webinar!

We are always looking for corporate sponsors for our webinar series. Email Sarah if you’d like more information.

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Edmonton AB
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