Saskatchewan Boreal Shield Woodland Caribou, Wolves, and Black Bears

Please find links to pdf copies of our 2019 Final Report and 2016 Interim Report on the population dynamics and critical habitat of woodland caribou of the Saskatchewan Boreal Shield, here: 

Philip D. McLoughlin, Clara Superbie, Kathrine Stewart, Patricia Tomchuk, Branden Neufeld, Dale Barks, Tom Perry, Ruth Greuel, Charlotte Regan, Alexandre Truchon-Savard, Sarah Hart, Jonathan Henkelman, and Jill F. Johnstone. 2019. Population and habitat ecology of boreal caribou and their predators in the Saskatchewan Boreal Shield. Final Report. Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. 238 pp. 2013-2018 SK Boreal Shield Caribou Project Final Report (June 10, 2019)

McLoughlin, P.D., K. Stewart, C. Superbie, T. Perry, P. Tomchuk, R. Greuel, K. Singh, A. Truchon-Savard, J. Henkelman, and J. F. Johnstone. 2016. Population dynamics and critical habitat of woodland caribou in the Saskatchewan Boreal Shield. Interim Project Report, 2013–2016. Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. 162 pp. 2013-2016 SK Boreal Shield Caribou Project Interim Report (Nov 18 2016)

In 2013, we initiated a major project on the population dynamics and critical habitat of woodland caribou living in the Boreal Shield region of Saskatchewan, Canada. This is a 5-year study funded primarily by an NSERC Collaborative Research and Development Grant in partnership with three federal ministries (Industry Canada, Western Economic Diversification, and Environment Canada), the Province of Saskatchewan, and several companies operating in our study area (see funding information, below). Academic collaborators include Dr. Jill JohnstoneDr. Ryan Brook, and Dr. Xulin Guo at the University of Saskatchewan; Dr. Paul Paquet; Dr. Yeen Ten Hwang [Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment] and Dr. Cheryl Johnson [Environment Canada]). Woodland caribou are classified as Threatened in the boreal forests of Canada, and caribou of the Saskatchewan Boreal Shield comprise one of the least studied populations. The region is the only one of 51 caribou ranges currently identified as data deficient by Environment Canada with respect to status, trend, and definition of critical habitat. What is remarkable about the Saskatchewan Boreal Shield, however, is that unlike most other caribou ranges in Canada, habitat disturbance is almost entirely natural (from

phil 1 wildfire) and the landscape has little in the way of an anthropogenic (human) footprint. Initiating research on this special population is of both provincial and national importance. In addition to providing perhaps our last opportunity to study the ecology of woodland caribou in a large, naturally regulated population (serving as a baseline reference for the rest of Canada), uncertainty as to the regional status of caribou has important implications for the people that live and work in Saskatchewan. In the absence of data, communities and companies of the Saskatchewan Boreal Shield face regulatory delays and costs to investment with respect to future development, with little guidance as to how their activities must be mitigated to allow for acceptable practices under the Species at Risk Act. Of particular concern are implications for developing access and infrastructure for northern communities and sustainably developing the region’s mineral resources (especially gold and uranium, the latter for which occurs nowhere else in Canada and accounts for 18% of the world’s primary production). Our proposed research is aimed at reducing uncertainty as to the status of caribou in a region fundamentally important to the Saskatchewan and Canadian economies while identifying novel means by which to define critical habitat for species.

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